M&A up for sale in Havas rethink

Poster contractors Mills & Allen and Sky Sites have been put up for sale by their French owner Havas after a year of speculation.

Poster contractors Mills & Allen and Sky Sites have been put up for sale by their French owner Havas after a year of speculation.

In a statement, Havas’ parent company Vivendi says: “Havas is envisaging the sale of its billboard advertising activities. It will then be focused on its core activities of publishing and multimedia.”

The decision to sell the poster division, Avenir, which owns Avenir and Sky Sites, has been triggered by Havas’ acquisition of US company Cendant Software, an electronic publisher with estimated 1998 net sales of more than $600m (364m).

A Havas spokeswoman says: “In this new strategy, Avenir is not part of our core business.”

Avenir, which is made up of about a dozen companies across Europe, including the poster contractor Mills & Allen and the airport poster contractor Sky Sites in the UK, will be put up for public auction.

It was reported in the French press last week that transport advertiser TDI, which handles almost all UK bus advertising and the London Underground posters, could be about to acquire Avenir. TDI does not have a European presence.

Jeremy Male, TDI chief executive, denies imminent plans to buy Avenir. But he says: “Of course TDI might have some interest. In a way, it would be a little bit strange if we didn’t.”

Clear Channel International, which bought the More Group, and US company Outdoor Systems International could also be interested buyers. Roger Parry, chief executive of CCI, says: “We will think very seriously about it.”

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