Vivendi lowers stake in Havas
[paris] French utilities and communications conglomerate Vivendi sold a 9% stake in Havas Advertising to a small, undisclosed group of institutional investors, reducing its controlling share of the advertising group to 20.7%. Capital market experts said the transaction is unlikely to squelch speculation that either Vivendi, Havas or both are soon to be considered prey for hostile takeover bids. Analysts have long suggested Vivendi eventually would sell its entire stake in Havas Advertising. Conventional wisdom holds that cash from such a sale would help Vivendi fend off any hostile takeover battle.
MacManus, Buhler to build network
[frankfurt] MacManus Group, New York, acquired a substantial stake in Buhler & Partner, which will become the lead agency of a small pan-European network. Agency founder and General Manager Alfred P. Buhler, 56, will head the network. Mr. Buhler wouldn't say whether MacManus was acquiring a majority holding or only a substantial minority stake. Buhler & Partner handles General Motors Corp. brands Cadillac and Chevrolet in various European markets, while MacManus handles GM accounts elsewhere in the world and Cadillac in the U.S.
Burnett boots M'soft-Packer venture
[sydney] Leo Burnett Connaghan & May took the unusual step of issuing a statement saying that after four years it has resigned the $2 million account for NineMSN, a joint venture between Microsoft Corp. and media mogul Kerry Packer's Publishing & Broadcasting. The statement cited "irreconcilable creative differences." Rob Clarke, the agency's national CEO, said: "It's sad that we have had to take this decision, but at the end of the day we are judged by our work in the marketplace. And it was fast becoming clear that our creative product was being vastly compromised." Burnett's move couldn't have come at a worse time for NineMSN, facing stiff new competition from Telstra and last week losing its founding sales director, Nic Jones, to rival Yahoo!.