Havas In The Aftermath Of Its Failed Grey Bid

As Havas rushed to justify its failed bid for Grey last week, intrigue mounted about the fate of the French holding company, thought by most to be the next industry takeover target.

By week’s end, French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, who has publicly confirmed a 10.4 percent stake in Havas, was said to have amassed 11 percent of shares. He believes he has the support of an additional 25 percent of Havas’ outside shareholders, sources said. Bolloré, who has a history of putting pressure on management at underperforming European companies, is expected to raise his stake to 15 percent, according to sources. A rep for Bolloré declined comment.

Under French trading laws, Bolloré must disclose his Havas plans this week, but he’s already seeking to make his influence known: He’s asked for two seats on Havas’ board, with one of them expected to go to former Havas chairman Pierre Dauzier. As previously reported [Adweek.com, Sept. 6], Bolloré wants Dauzier to return in a senior role at Havas. Because of Bolloré’s request, Havas is looking into whether it should create a supervisory board—separate from Havas’ board of directors—that would be chaired by Dauzier, sources said. Any creation of such a board would require investor approval, with a 45-day advance-notice period for any shareholder meeting.

Company head Alain de Pouzilhac could not be reached for comment, but a rep said the Havas CEO “has a lot of respect for Dauzier.”