Yannick Bolloré: 'Nothing makes me more angry than losing a client'

Yannick Bolloré, the chairman and chief executive of Havas, has told Cannes he feels more pain when losing a client than joy when winning new business.

Yannick Bolloré (centre):  the chairman and chief executive of Havas
Yannick Bolloré (centre): the chairman and chief executive of Havas

Speaking at the Havas Café at the International Festival of Creativity this morning, Bolloré discussed Havas’s approach to mergers and acquisitions, explaining that any buyout has to benefit clients.

The 35-year-old said: "The problem is not the amount of money we have because if you look at the financial situation it’s very healthy. We have a low average debt ratio so a very strong capacity to do acquisitions.

"We are living in period of opportunity and also danger. We could raise lots of Euros, but it’s not that because we have access to money that we need to spend it. We need to have a rational [approach to acquisitions and make sure the transition is smooth]."

He said that mergers and acquisitions are not simple and require a lot of work, no matter how much money the company is set to make on paper. Bolloré said: "One plus one in M&As never equals two. It can be 2.1 or even zero which can be a disaster.

"The question for us is, what will it bring to people and clients? Maybe we are wrong [not focussing on] new business and making clients happy but there is nothing that makes me more angry than losing a client.

"I feel more pain in losing a client than joy in winning a client. It can be more expensive to win a new client."

Havas spent €34 million on acquisitions in 2014 to build on its "strengths in digital, technology and creativity". It acquired Work Club, the independent digital agency in May last year.

This included the acquisition of Work Club, a digital agency in the UK, and Revenue Frontier, a direct response agency in California, US.

Bolloré also said that no one can predict the future so the industry should stay open-minded and be able to adapt – an approach that Havas is taking.

He said: "There’re a lot of talks about the future in the Palais this week but no one knows what will happen."