Havas Names Bolloré Chairman, Wahl CEO

BOSTON Havas today named investor Vincent Bolloré chairman of its board of directors and Philippe Wahl chief executive officer, the holding company said.

Wahl had been president of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’ Epargne banking group. His selection came as a surprise, as his name had not come up previously in connection with the post vacated three weeks ago by Alain de Pouzilhac, who resigned following a nearly yearlong power struggle with Bolloré.

TBWA Worldwide CEO Jean-Marie Dru had been touted as Bolloré’s choice, but he turned down the job [Adweek Online, June 29].

Board member Richard Colker had stepped in to act as Havas chairman and CEO, but Havas in a statement said “his mission … ended today.”

In addition, Bolloré today proposed the nomination of three vice chairmen: Ed Eskandarian, CEO of Arnold; Jacques Séguéla, Havas chief creative officer; and Fernando Rodés, CEO of Media Planning Group. (Those executives had already been serving as special advisors to Colker.)

With Bolloré, the three vice chairmen will lead a strategic committee chaired by MPG chairman Leopoldo Rodés.

“My personal contribution at the head of the Havas Group demonstrates the long-term commitment of the Bolloré Group to the strategic development and growth of Havas and its activities,” said Bolloré in a statement.

De Pouzilhac stepped down shortly after Bolloré gained seats for himself and three associates on Havas’ board. De Pouzilhac, a 30-year Havas employee, had been openly critical of the investor and waged a high-profile campaign against his efforts to secure board representation. (De Pouzilhac remains a company director.)

Havas has also named these Euro RSCG executives managing directors: David Jones, Rémi Babinet, Stéphane Foulks and Mercedes Erra. All are top managers at Euro RSCG in France save Jones, who heads the network’s New York operations.

—Adweek staff report