French media and entertainment giant Vivendi is to buy Havas through the acquisition of Groupe Bolloré’s 60% stake in the advertising group.
Music, TV and telecommunications firm Vivendi – which owns Universal Music and pay-TV broadcaster Canal+ – has offered €9.25 per share, valuing the deal at €2.3bn ($2.5bn).
France-headquartered Vivendi is chaired by Vincent Bolloré, a former Havas chief executive and father of current CEO Yannick (pictured).
It confirms long-held suspicions that the Bolloré family would look to consolidate its assets in the media and advertising world – though competitors including WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell have argued such a merger would create “all sorts of potential conflicts of interest”.
In a statement, Havas said: “If Vivendi’s offer is accepted, Vivendi would enter a new phase of development to accelerate its building of a leading world-class content, media and communications group and will ensure the newly created group a unique positioning in an environment in which content, distribution and communications are converging.
“If this transaction is successful, it would enable Havas to leverage Vivendi’s skills in talent management, content creation and distribution. In return, Vivendi will gain access to Havas’s expertise in consumer science, data analytics and new creative formats.”
It follows the decision in March by Havas to unify its creative and media divisions into a single operations, to create a “seamless” experience for clients.
Both creative and media operations became business units under a single regional P&L, with the new organisation to be overseen by former Havas Media Group chief Dominique Delport, who stepped up to the role of global managing director and chief client officer.
Speaking to M&M Global at the time of the restructure, Yannick Bolloré argued it was the natural step for agencies in the digital age.
“It is key if we want to make [agencies] work together, and not just share a location, that we need to go beyond that. [We are] not necessarily ready, because, over the last two decades, creative and media have created their own way of operating. But I think it is very important to put everything together, to be client-centric,” he said.
“Of course, it’s a challenge. But it has been three years since we started with the ‘Together’ strategy, so people know each other, and we have common leadership meetings. It will be much easier today than if we had done it three years ago.”