Havas confirmed today that it has entered into exclusive talks to acquire Paris-based digital marketing company FullSIX Group. Terms weren’t disclosed although the price is estimated at a reported $75 million. Havas said it expects to complete the transaction next month.
FullSIX was co-founded by Marco Tinelli, currently group president, in 1998. Eight years ago Tinelli became embroiled in a legal battle with WPP CEO Martin Sorrell over allegations that he was part of an internet “hate campaign” against Sorrell along with business partner Marco Benatti.
Benatti, a co-founder of FullSIX, had been head of WPP’s Italian operations but was dismissed by the company in 2006. Sorrell alleged the two men were behind an anonymous and defamatory blog that depicted him as mafia don.
Sorrell also alleged that both men were behind the distribution of an email with a “grossly intrusive” image of him and another WPP executive, Daniela Weber. But Sorrell settled for 120,000 British Pounds (roughly $180,000 at today’s exchange rate). An investigation of the defendants' electronic footprints failed to link them with the email, sent via software that covered up the origin of the message.
FullSIX is comprised of 16 different agencies which combined offer an array of digital, data and media capabilities. It now employs over 600 people, 400 of them in France. Clients include Vodafone, Bayer, L’Oreal, and French pay TV channel Canal +, which is controlled by the Bollore Group, also parent to Havas.
Havas CEO Yannick Bollore said of the talks that “I am confident that Marco [Tinelli] and his team will further reinforce Havas’ expertise on behalf of our clients, and that Havas will provide FullSIX with a major new source of growth.”
Added Tinelli: “FullSIX will add to and develop the Havas Group’s digital and data scope and expertise. We are very close in terms of culture, our knowhow is largely complimentary and our ambitions are the same.”