Bolloré Raises Capital via Havas Shares

BOSTON Groupe Bolloré, the principal company of corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, said it has used about 55 million Havas shares to borrow more than $270 million from an unnamed French financial firm, fueling speculation that Bolloré will raise his 20 percent stake in the holding company.

Bolloré disclosed the transaction in a brief statement on the company’s Web site but did not say how the money would be used. A representative of the company could not immediately be reached for comment. Havas also could not be reached.

Paris-based Havas is the parent of the Arnold, Euro RSCG and Media Planning Group agency networks. Two key Havas assignments (Volkswagen’s $500 million North American media account and Intel’s $400 million global media and creative business) are currently in review, with incumbent Havas agencies defending.

Bolloré increased his stake in Havas to more than 20 percent in October but said in a statement he had no “immediate” plan to attempt to gain control of the company [Adweek Online, Oct. 27].

Bolloré at the time reserved the right to buy or sell Havas shares in accordance with market opportunities and the “evolution” of “relationships” with Havas management. (When Havas this summer made a bid for Grey Global Group, Bolloré publicly stated his opposition to the company’s decision to do so. U.K.-based WPP Group eventually made the winning bid for Grey.)