VINCENT BOLLORE SELLS SHIPPING COMPANY FOR $600 MILLION

Speculation Swirls About His Plans for the Cash

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Bollore Group, the French industrial and investment concern led by Vincent Bollore, has sold its Delmas shipping business to CMA CGM, a French container shipping line, in a deal valued at $600 million.
The Delmas shipping conglomerate, which has just been sold by Bollore Group for $600 million, is France's second-largest shipping company.
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January 2006
In a statement, the Bollore Group said just more than half the transaction will be funded with cash, the rest with debt, and is expected to be in full effect by January 2006.

The sale of Delmas puts more cash at the disposal of Mr. Bollore, who is the largest single shareholder in -- and chairman of -- French advertising company Havas.

Mr. Bollore could not be reached for comment by press time.

After a protracted battle that ended last summer with the resignation of former Havas Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac, Mr. Bollore was named chairman. He also won four seats on Havas' board.

Corporate raider
Mr. Bollore, who is renowned in France for buying minority stakes in publicly traded companies, pushing for management change, then selling his shares for a gain -- sometimes in hostile situations -- has publicly sought to allay concerns that he intends to break up Havas, whose holdings include Euro RSCG Worldwide, Arnold Worldwide Partners and MPG.

Speaking to reporters during the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France, in June, Havas director and longtime creative chief Jacques Seguela said in the days after Mr. de Pouzilhac’s resignation that Mr. Bollore planned to sell Delmas, the shipping company, in order to raise more capital to increase his stake in Havas. Under French law, a shareholder whose stake exceeds 33% automatically triggers a takeover.

Bought into Aegis
In August, Mr. Bollore purchased 6% of London-based Aegis Group, parent of Carat and Synovate, and the last independent media company of significant size. That has led to much speculation that Mr. Bollore may make a play for Aegis, particularly since Havas’ media operation, MPG, is too small to have sufficient global reach demanded today by many global clients.

Speaking during a meeting with investors at a Sept. 6 meeting to announce Aegis’ first-half results, Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill said he has not spoken to the Bollore Group since an initial conversation with Mr. Bollore the day the share acquisition was made. "The only fact is that Mr. Bollore has 6%," Mr. Lerwill said. "Anything else is rumor and speculation that is not appropriate to discuss."

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Emma Hall in London contributed to this report.

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