Havas Group is now majority-owned by the Bollore Group. Bollore Group’s tender offer for Havas stock has been completed and Bollore now owns nearly 73% of the French ad-marketing holding company, the firms confirmed Wednesday.
Bollore Group has effectively controlled Havas since CEO Vincent Bollore staged a boardroom coup of Havas in 2005. The company began buying shares in Havas more than a decade ago. Up to now Bollore controlled the agency group with an ownership stake of 36.2%. Bollore’s son Yannick assumed leadership of the holding company about a year ago.
In November, Bollore Group made a tender offer for a majority but not all of Havas shares, which will still be publicly traded.
At the time Vincent Bollore said: “The public exchange offer fits into the continuity of Bollore’s long-term investment in Havas [and] highlights the confidence of Bollore in Havas’ strategy as an independent group among the world-leading communication players.”
Commenting on the completion of the tender offer Bollore Group stated that the deal “allows the Bollore Group to strengthen its stake in Havas and now own over two-thirds of its capital. It will strengthen Havas’ shareholding structure and allow it to develop its long-term strategy.”
The Havas Board approved the Bollore takeover proposal after reviewing an assessment by an outside appraiser, Sorgem Evaluation that concluded that Bollore Group’s tender offer would provide fair value to Havas stockholders.
The move comes amid much speculation about further consolidation in Adland. Last year when the proposed merger of Omnicom and Publicis collapsed, Pivotal Research Analyst Brian Wieser issued a commentary in which he posited that Havas was more likely a buyer than a seller in the consolidation game and that under the right circumstances the firm might make a play for Interpublic Group. “IPG is the optimal candidate among the bigger holding companies if Havas can gain access to capital,” Wieser wrote at the time.
Since then activist investor Elliott Management disclosed that it acquired a nearly 7% stake in Interpublic and in November indicated that it may seek board seats at the company’s annual meeting this year. The investment firm would like to see IPG sold so it can reap a profit on its shares.
But the list of would-be acquirers appears to be dwindling. Two potential buyers — Publicis Groupe and Dentsu — have recently signaled they have other plans. Publicis is in the process of acquiring Sapient for $3.7 billion and analysts say it is unlikely the firm would make a play for IPG before fully absorbing the firm, which owns digital agency SapientNitro and a management consultancy.
Dentsu also declared itself uninterested in buying IPG. Dentsu’s Tim Andree recently told attendees at an investor conference that the Japanese-based ad firm was not currently interested in pursuing an IPG acquisition.
To what extent Bollore has an interest in expanding its Adland holdings, now that it owns a majority of Havas, remains to be seen.