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David Pidgeon 

Vivendi offers £2bn for 60 per cent stake in Havas

Vivendi offers £2bn for 60 per cent stake in Havas

Vincent Bolloré, the billionaire chairman of French media company Vivendi, has announced his intention to buy a 60 per cent stake in advertising group Havas from his own holding company.

Vivendi will pay £2bn in cash to buy Bollore Group's dominant share in Havas - which is run by Mr Bolloré's son, Yannick - in a move Vivendi said would give it a "new dimension to compete against powerful global players."

Commenting on the deal, Julie Langley, a partner at Results International, an international advisor on M&A and fundraising to the marketing and tech sectors, said Vivendi’s move is interesting, but not necessarily surprising.

"After all, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach consumers through traditional advertising so content becomes ever-more important," she said.

"While this would be the largest example of a media and content company moving into marketing services, it is by no means the first. Hearst bought iCrossing, News Corp acquired Unruly Media, and Comcast has made a number of adtech deals to date."

Langley said the bigger picture comes down to how it would put Havas in a much better position to compete given it is only about 15 per cent of the size of WPP and has done less than 30 deals over the past three years.

In the same time period WPP has completed over 150.

"The issue here most likely comes down to its ownership, its control by Group Bolloré effectively makes it family-owned," she added.

"Simply put, Havas needs to have the appetite and ability to fund strategic acquisition in the light of ever-increased competition, not just from the likes of WPP and IPG, but also from the management consultancies and technology firms.

"This means you need to have very deep pockets and this deal would make absolute sense."

Vivendi, which Mr Bolloré took control of in 2014, is the owner of Universal Music and Canal+.

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