Vivendi acquires Bolloré stake in Havas

Vincent Bolloré

Vincent Bolloré

Vivendi has acquired Bolloré Group’s majority stake in advertising outfit Havas, following a deal struck between the French media group and the investment vehicle of its chairman, Vincent Bolloré, at the beginning of June.

Vivendi paid €9.25 a share for Bolloré’s 59.2% stake in Havas, giving a total of €2.3 billion for the stake. The media group has also make a public offer for the remainder of Havas’s shares.

Bolloré, who holds a 20% stake in Vivendi, has long had an ambition to bring the two groups together.

The sale of Havas will enable Bolloré to repatriate some of the cash he has invested in Vivendi, leading to speculation that he could use the sale of Havas to further increase his stake in the media group in the future.

Vivendi said in June that the combination would improve its share performance thanks to Havas’s high operating margins. Overall, Vivendi produces revenues of around €10 billion against €2 billion for Havas.

Some analysts have expressed scepticism about the potential of the combination of advertising with distribution – see as unusual – to deliver meaningful synergies.

Separately, Vivendi reportedly seems to have ruled out focusing exclusively on a hostile takeover of games company Ubisoft and could look elsewhere to fulfill its ambition to re-establish itself as a major player in gaming.

Vivendi has been involved in a struggle with the Guillemot family for control of the company, in which it holds a 27% stake but only a 24.54% share of voting rights.

The Guillemots recently increased their stake in Ubisoft. The family previously lost control of its other games company, Gameloft to Vivendi in a hostile takeover.

In an interview with Le Figaro, Gameloft CEO Stéphane Roussel said that Vivendi had not ruled out any scenario with regard to Ubisoft. He said that the company could pull out and seek to acquire another major player in the sector if it is unable to strike a deal with Ubisoft.

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