Havas Asks Media Chief To Run Company, May Align With Aegis

Vincent Bollore, the chairman of Paris-based Havas and an influential shareholder in British rival Aegis Group, has asked Havas' top media executive to become chief executive of the company, and the British press is speculating that could lead to closer ties between Havas and Aegis.

Bollore, who has been gaining creeping control over Aegis, the parent of big media buying networks such as Carat, Isobar and Vizeum, recently asked Fernando Rodés Vilá, the head of Havas' Media Planning Group (MPG) to succeed departing Havas CEO Philippe Wahl, according to a report in Wednesday's edition of British tabloid The Daily Telegraph.

Barcelona-based Rodés Vilá is a colorful executive who is the second generation of a media planning family known for its strategic approach to media, and has been struggling to reengineer Havas' MPG unit into a world leader over the past several years. Though it still trails the bigger agency holding companies in media buying clout, MPG is highly regarded for planning in key markets. For that reason, industry observers have been speculating that Havas' Bollore might seek some form of consolidation, or at the very least, an alliance between MPG and Aegis that would give the two companies more clout as media buyers. To date, Bollore has maintained that he would prefer to see the two companies operate independent of each other, and that his growing stake in Aegis is nothing more than a "financial holding."

Meanwhile, the rise of dynamic media executive such as Rodés Vilá might present other problems within Havas, an organization still dominated by creative services. "Appointing the group's media planning chief to oversee the workings of its powerful creative advertising agency operations, which include the Euro RSCG Worldwide business, could trigger a major political row within the Havas empire," the Telegraph speculated in its report.

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