Havas plans second global network

Havas Advertising, the French group which owns the EURO RSCG network and WCRS in London, is in talks about merging with an “Anglo-American” agency to create a second international network. Sources believe it is keenly interested in doing a deal with a UK-based agency with a substantial US network.

The company’s chief financial officer Alain Camon says the aim of the merger is to give Havas Advertising the clout to take on the big three groups Omnicom, IPG and WPP. It is holding talks with several “second-tier” groups, believed to include DMB&B, Grey, Leo Burnett, Bates Worldwide and Saatchi & Saatchi. The aim is to move Havas Advertising from the eighth-ranked worldwide ad company to fifth.

The media interests of Havas and the partner would be merged, which leaves in question the future of the Mediapolis joint-venture between Havas-owned EURO RSCG and WCRS and Young & Rubicam. It has been suggested Aegis could emerge as a media partner.

A merger would be financed through a share swap. Havas Advertising is 38 per cent-owned by Havas Group, with six per cent owned by banks and the rest floated on the Paris stock market. Camon says: “It would be a share for share transaction. Now Havas has 38 per cent. Tomorrow it would have 15 to 20 per cent of a new group double the size.”

The news broke on Monday, after utilities conglomerate Compagnie Générale des Eaux announced plans to take over Havas, in which it has a 30 per cent share.

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