Havas by any other name

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Havas advertising will decide at its Dec. 6 board meeting whether to pay to keep the Havas name or switch to a new one the company has been testing internally and with clients. Havas' former biggest shareholder, Vivendi Universal, owns the rights to the name and initially demanded close to $30 million to sell it, according to Havas Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac.

"They started very high," said Mr. de Pouzilhac. "Step-by-step we tried to reduce the amount."

He said chances are "fifty-fifty" that Havas will change names in seven months, when rights to use its existing name expire.

Separately, Havas last week confirmed the fate of the 68 companies in its just-disbanded Diversified Agencies Group. The biggest company, Brann Worldwide, will become part of Arnold Worldwide Partners because Havas's other network, Euro RSCG Worldwide, has potential conflicts with Brann, Mr. de Pouzilhac said. Arnold lacks marketing services expertise, while Euro RSCG Marketing Services has made many acquisitions in that area and still has challenges to integrate them. Havas said 55% of the former DAG agencies will be added to either Arnold or Euro RSCG, with a couple of small European agencies joining Media Planning Group. Another 36%, including public relations and human resources communication agencies, will stay independent and serve all three networks but report to Havas Exec VP Alain Cayzac. Most of the remaining 9% will be sold.

Mr. de Pouzilhac said the 10 staffers who ran DAG, including Havas Vice-Chairman Jean-Michel Carlo, have left.

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