Havas Advertising’s lengthy search for a merger partner took on a
new urgency this week following the takeover of the Havas holding
company by the French conglomerate, Generale des Eaux.
Generale des Eaux has signalled that its priorities lie with Havas’s
media interests, rather than its advertising arm. But the company has
said it would look favourably on any deal that would raise the critical
mass of Havas Advertising, which owns the Euro RSCG network and Campus
Worknet, another loose association of agencies that includes WCRS.
Alain de Pouzilhac, chairman of Havas Advertising, confirmed his search
for a partner was progressing, but denied a deal was imminent.
’We are very open and are holding discussions with any groups we believe
can give us critical mass. We hope to have a deal in place by the end of
the year, but rumours that we will do something sooner than that are
fantasy,’ he said.
He declined to comment on reports that talks with both Saatchi & Saatchi
and Aegis had reached a critical stage.
He did, however, strenuously deny reports that Havas Advertising was up
for sale. ’Never has any merchant bank been given the authority to sell
us,’ he stated.
Havas, the world’s eighth largest advertising organisation, has held
informal talks about possible closer links with a number of
’Anglo-Saxon’ networks since news of the merger with Generale des Eaux
Through such links, Havas hopes to enter the network top five.