Havas Networks Eyeing Brann

Brann Worldwide, the relationship marketing agency with nearly $1 billion in billings, is the biggest prize up for grabs as Havas Advertising begins dismantling its Diversified Agencies Group.

Havas networks Arnold, Euro RSCG and Media Planning Group will soon absorb most of the 70 shops that comprise DAG. Those agencies, of which Brann is the largest, offer mainly direct, public relations and interactive capabilities in 14 countries, with some 8,000 employees.

Last week, Paris-based Havas, the fifth-largest global communications company, posted a loss of more than $6 million for the first half of 2001. The loss includes charges related to layoffs and corporate restructuring. Havas is looking to save $120 million over the next two years and gain operational efficiencies by disbanding DAG. It will decide by month’s end where the various agencies will end up.

“We’re doing the evaluation—meeting the people [from DAG shops],” said Ed Eskandarian, chairman and CEO of Boston’s Arnold. “You have to have the right units in the right divisions and make sure there’s a cultural fit.”

Should Brann be added to Eskandarian’s arsenal, it would boost billings of the Ar nold worldwide network to $3.5 billion. Brann, which recently moved its headquarters to Wilton, Conn., claims IBM, Pizza Hut and FleetBoston Financial among its largest clients, though the latter could pose a conflict with Arnold’s work for Fidelity Investments. Eskandarian said such issues have yet to be addressed.

“No decisions have been made,” said Brann CEO David Finkel. He added, however, that Brann, with offices in 15 North American and European cities, will not be broken up, and will continue to operate semi-autonomously regardless of its ultimate alignment.

Arnold is the smallest Havas network and would benefit the most from Brann’s clout—an argument being made by Eskandarian to Havas chairman/CEO Alain de Pouzilhac, sources said. Executives at Euro RSCG declined comment; Media Planning officials did not return calls.