Yesterday, French media giant Vivendi surprised almost no one by offering to buy out its own Vincent Bolloré’s 60% controlling stake in Havas for around $2.5 billion.
Despite the fact that his son Yannick Bolloré, who is currently CEO and chairman of Havas and its creative group, sometimes played coy with the press about a potential acquisition, the internal memo he sent to all staff yesterday is both serious about the challenges of the consolidation and cautiously optimistic about the future of the family business.
Bolloré’s note includes a couple of assets to better familiarize the Havas team with Vivendi, including an intro video and a corporate presentation. Here’s the video.
Good God, Keith Richards is old.
Here’s Yannick’s full memo.
I hope this message finds you well.
Today Vivendi opened negociations with the Bolloré Group to acquire their stake in the Havas Group. Over the past 12 months there has been much speculation around this project in the press as I am sure you are aware.
As you know, the Bolloré Group is our shareholder with approximately 60% stake and has always supported our development. The Bolloré Group is also a shareholder of the Vivendi Group with 30% of voting rights. Havas and Vivendi are both consolidated in the Bolloré Group’s accounts. The Vivendi Group is a major player in the worlds of content, media and communications with prestigious assets such as Universal Music Group, Canal +, DailyMotion, Gameloft and a stake in Telecom Italia amongst others.
I would like to share some thoughts with you on this opportunity.
First of all, I would like to underline that I have chosen to express myself in my role as Chairman & CEO of the Havas Group.
Through this acquisition project, Vivendi expresses its will to become a world leader in content and communications. The Havas Group has a healthy and positive financial situation and would bring to Vivendi its expertise in consumer science, content creation and production and data.
I would like to point out that Vivendi wishes to preserve jobs and to allow us to develop our business in an industry which is undergoing rapid consolidation and is threatened by increasing competition from companies coming from other sectors.
Many of you have often mentioned how this convergence would be attractive for our talents. Our groups evolve in the same environment, some of our teams already collaborate and our cultures are similar and complementary.
Finally, our clients expect us to come up with innovative solutions and having privileged access to Vivendi’s prestigious assets would enable us to create unique offerings and services all over the world. We have already launched shared initiatives which this operation would accelerate.
We are all aware of the importance of having a stable shareholding which ensures our long term development perspectives.
Please click here to download Vivendi’s corporate film and presentation.
It is clear that the closing of this transaction remains subject, among others, to the completion of satisfactory due diligence, the execution of a share purchase agreement between Vivendi and Groupe Bolloré, the consultation with the employee representative bodies and the approval of the relevant competition authorities.
I will obviously keep you up to date with the next steps.
All my very best,
Note the conditional statements in the latter half of the document. A report in Campaign today cites analysts predicting that the group WSJ’s CMO Today calls “Havendi” will have to “make significant effort to convince clients that the agency is not biased towards Vivendi-owned media assets.”
Bolloré didn’t directly address that issue in his memo, but it will certainly come up as the merger undergoes scrutiny in coming weeks.
On another note, Vivendi does put together a compelling corporate presentation, as also included in the zip link from Yannick’s memo.
And here are those aforementioned media assets.
While Yannick makes a point of stating Vivendi’s desire to “preserve jobs” in the note, we very much expect more restructuring announcements if/when the deal goes through.