A First for Bollore: An Official Visit to Cannes Ad Festival

Havas Six-Member Executive Committee to Accompany Him

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One of the biggest names at next week's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival will be a first-timer: French corporate-raider-turned-Havas-chairman Vincent Bollore.
Photo: AP
Havas Chairman will be yachting in for his first visit to the Cannes Ad Festival.

Meet the press
Like many of the top French admen, Mr. Bollore will pop down from Paris for a day or two. He is even holding a press conference the morning of June 22. The holding company's six-member executive committee, including Havas CEO Fernando Rodes Vila and David Jones, Euro RSCG Worldwide's CEO, will be there with him. The press conference will be at the Havas Café on the La Croisette beach boulevard, not on Mr. Bollore's yacht in Cannes' old port. (His Bollore Group includes a shipbuilding business, and Mr. Bollore hails from France's coastal Brittany region and is an ardent sailor.)

In fact, the first time he spoke to Alain de Pouzilhac, the former Havas chairman-CEO, whose departure he engineered in June 2005 after Mr. de Pouzilhac failed to stop Mr. Bollore from gaining four seats for his supporters on Havas' board, Mr. Bollore was calling from a mobile phone on his yacht.

Dru tug of war
At last year's Cannes festival, the most suspenseful drama of the week was Havas' shameless courting of Jean Marie Dru, president-CEO of TBWA Worldwide, to replace Mr. de Pouzilhac at Havas. Festival-goers gossiped at least as much about the beachside tug of war between Havas and Omnicom over Mr. Dru as they did about who would capture the film Grand Prix (everyone knew that would go to Wieden & Kennedy's "Grrr" spot for Honda U.K., anyway).

Post-Cannes, Mr. Dru decided to stay put, and months after the festival, Havas moved Mr. Rodes Vila, the Spaniard whose family started Media Planning Group, from CEO of Havas-owned MPG to his current role.

Busy month
Mr. Bollore has been getting around a lot lately. On June 12, he spoke at Havas' annual general meeting in Paris and fielded most of the shareholders' questions himself. He emphasized his regime's thriftiness by holding the meeting at Havas headquarters in the staff cafeteria, a world away from the luxe Paris venue rented by the holding company last year.

Two days later, he was at Aegis Group's annual general meeting, making the case as Aegis's largest shareholder for two representatives on the company's board of directors. He was defeated, but said he will lobby Aegis investors and threatened to call an extraordinary general meeting later for another vote.

Mr. Bollore will have a lot to talk about at his press conference in Cannes.
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