CEO Yannick Bolloré Says that Havas is not Being Sold

Havas Group stands at the precipice of potential transformation as its parent company, Vivendi, deliberates on spinning off the burgeoning advertising network into its own publicly traded entity.

Should the initiative materialize—though it remains unconfirmed—Havas would emerge as a publicly traded entity in its own right, a move endorsed by Havas’ chairman and CEO, Yannick Bolloré, who anticipates a boost in Havas’ shareholder value.

Bolloré remarked, “This transition will enable us to sustain our growth trajectory, bolster our financial flexibility, and herald a new, promising era for Havas.”

Vivendi recently disclosed its fiscal results for 2023, revealing a 4.4% increase in Havas’ net organic revenue compared to the previous year, amounting to nearly 2.7 billion euros. Relative to its holding company peers, Havas ranks second only to Publicis Groupe in growth.

Bolloré reflected on Havas’ evolution, stating, “It’s intriguing because Havas, established in 1835, is indeed the oldest advertising group. Yet, being comparatively smaller has necessitated adaptability and innovation to remain competitive.”

A global player with notable growth in Mexico, Havas visa for major accounts primarily in Mexico, France, and Spain, where it commands a significant presence among holding groups. Conversely, the U.S. market contributes a smaller share of the group’s revenue. International operations, particularly in Latin America, propel Havas’ expansion.

Brian Wieser, industry analyst and CEO of Madison and Wall consultancy, observed, “While lacking major U.S. accounts, Havas boasts a talented global workforce, thriving particularly in Mexico—a region where agency groups have seen favorable growth.”

In 2023, Havas embarked on an acquisition spree, integrating 10 new agencies into its network. Noteworthy additions included Uncommon, a highly respected independent creative agency based in the U.K., alongside acquisitions in India, Germany, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and the U.S.

Bolloré weighs the prospect of going public, not a sale Bolloré contemplates transitioning to public status to rectify Havas’ undervalued share price.

In 2017, the holding group finalized the acquisition of Bolloré Group’s remaining 59.2% stake in Havas. Bolloré, leading since 2013, sits on Vivendi’s board.

Currently, Bolloré prioritizes the potential public listing, dispelling rumors of Vivendi’s intent to sell to another holding group or consultancy.

He clarified, “Selling Havas to another entity would be simpler while unlisted. Acquiring an unlisted company is less complex. If divesting Havas were the goal, it would be easier now as a private entity rather than after going public.”

Owner Vivendi explores spinning off the agency network to stimulate growth. INDEPENDENT HAVAS COULD UNLEASH STRUCTURAL REFORMS AND ACQUISITIONS

The unified strategy Wieser attributes Havas’ growth to its organizational model, characterized by streamlined operations via consolidated media groups and creative villages.

Publicis Groupe later adopted a similar approach dubbed Power of One.

“Both Havas and Publicis have embraced a unitary model, deemed the optimal strategy,” noted Wieser, emphasizing enhanced efficiency and streamlined decision-making.

As Havas reinforces this strategy, its focus remains on sustained growth.

“As long as we maintain growth momentum, we will require a larger workforce,” affirmed Bolloré.

The CEO affirmed openness to further acquisitions if suitable opportunities arise.

Navigating the road ahead Bolloré anticipates business challenges ahead, influenced by macroeconomic conditions and global conflicts.

“The geopolitical landscape is concerning, surpassing macroeconomic challenges,” he remarked, citing European business implications amid Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

He added, “The proximity of conflicts like Israel-Palestine to Europe heightens concerns, impacting morale amidst economic uncertainties.”

Shareholders and the advertising industry await clarity on Havas’ future trajectory. Presently, definitive answers regarding Havas’ public listing remain elusive.

“More questions than answers surfaced during the earnings call,” remarked Wieser.

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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