Bolloré merger strategy is ‘disastrous’ for Aegis

Vincent Bolloré’s efforts to harness Aegis, where he is a 29% shareholder, to Havas, where he is chairman and principal shareholder, could lead to a disastrous outcome, according to an analysis published this week.

“If the two businesses were to combine⦠they would be little more than a second-class, multi-disciplined conglomerate that would remain much smaller than the Big Four,” says Bob Willott, editor of Marketing Services Financial Intelligence.

Willott attacks “lame duck” Havas for its poor performance over the past four years. He says revenue has declined sharply in every region except its home territory, due only in part to divestments. In particular, Havas’ MPG media buying and planning division has made “hardly any progress at all”. Aegis, on the other hand, has achieved significant growth with the aid of investment in the digital market and research.

Willott acknowledges that an Aegis alliance might be a useful “prop” to Bolloré’s Havas interests, but believes there will be no long-term benefit unless “the root causes of Havas’ decline are addressed”.

He adds an alliance would damage the standing of Aegis. “It would blur clients’ perception of Aegis’ market position and could eventually destroy any benefits the company has gained from focusing on clearly defined niche disciplines to date,” he says.

This week Bolloré has been seeking to put two nominees onto the Aegis board.

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