Havas Issues Terse Denial On Cordiant Buyout

BOSTON — Havas on Monday issued a one-line statement asserting that, “Havas confirmed today that it is not currently in discussions with Cordiant Commuications Group.”

The terse communique came after reports over the weekend in England’s Observer newspaper and elsewhere that Paris-based Havas is looking to buy London’s Cordiant for as much as $1 billion. Long troubled, Cordiant is parent to Bates and also has a stake, along with Publicis, in Zenith Optimedia. Cordiant saw its 2001 revenue dip about 10% to approximately $700 million.

The pending Bcom3-Publicis deal has placed additional pressure on Havas — which recorded flat revenue of about $2 billion in 2001 — to add resources to compete in the global marketplace, and is driving new talks with Cordiant, sources said.

Havas three weeks ago made a bond offering on the Paris stock exchange for $320 million which it said would fuel acquisitions, primarily among its global networks: Arnold, Euro RSCG and Media Planning Group.

Neither Havas nor Cordiant officials could immediately be reached. Sources said Havas’ CEO Alain de Pouzilhac has in recent weeks been in talks with Cordiant — and other smaller competitors as well — and said it is likely that discussions continue.