Family Ties: Vivendi Bids To Acquire Havas

French media conglomerate Vivendi on Thursday made a bid for the Bolloré Group’s 60% stake in agency holding company Havas at roughly 9.25 euros per share. The offer values the Bolloré Group’s stake at 2.36 billion euros. Read the release.

Yannick Bolloré is CEO of Havas and the son of Vincent Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Bolloré Group.

The acquisition will bring a large group of agencies and media properties, including gaming and broadcast networks, music labels and digital assets, under one roof.

But the marketing opportunities created by those synergies may be hindered by scale problems, said Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser. Vivendi has the most influence and reach in France and southern Europe (excluding music label Universal Music Group), and Havas clients won’t want to sacrifice global reach to get better deals or access to talent from Vivendi properties.

The acquisition also risks conflicts of interest around where Havas might funnel client spend.

Clients won’t want to feel like a creative or media spend decision is being pushed upon them because of pre-existing deals with Vivendi. For instance, would Havas pressure a client to commit a certain amount of media spend to Dailymotion, in which Vivendi owns an 80% stake, instead of YouTube?

“When the planner says, ‘Allow us to buy your media here,’ clients are trusting the planner isn’t suggesting the place where they can make the most money,” Wieser said.

The merger, however, doesn’t come as a surprise. Vincent Bolloré has talked openly for some time about it being a strong possibility.

“My successor in media is Yannick, and he is head of Havas. For all these reasons, it is clear something will happen [between Vivendi and Havas],” he told the Financial Times last June.

And the added scale in a world controlled by two major media giants could be something that relieves clients rather than concerns them. The added scale could give Vivendi and Havas more leverage to acquire a bigger agency network, Wieser suggested in a note to investors.

“It’s consistent with something that marketers increasingly want,” he told AdExchanger. “It’s a solution to both the rise of digital media and the rise of the duopoly, and how marketers can organize themselves in that world.”

Overlap in Havas and Vivendi’s relationship extends beyond the Bolloré family tree. A quick LinkedIn search reveals multiple employees who either work at both companies or have moved between them in the past. Dominique Delport, for example, is both global managing director of Havas Group and president and board member at Vivendi.

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