World Economy

French Billionaire Seeks Control of Ad Firm

French Billionaire Seeks Control of Ad FirmFrench Billionaire Seeks Control of Ad Firm

Vincent Bollore is seeking to boost his stake in Havas SA (HAV), in a move that would give the French billionaire majority ownership of one of the world’s largest advertising companies and more say in how it’s run.

Under the proposal, minority shareholders will get 9 Bollore Group shares, adjusted for a 1-for-100 stock split, for every 5 Havas shares they hold, according to an e-mailed statement. That’s a 19.5 percent premium to the French ad company’s stock price and values it at 2.8 billion euros ($3.6 billion). Bollore Group currently owns about 36 percent of Havas and would keep its Paris listing, Bloomberg reported.

Havas, with annual sales of about 1.8 billion euros, is France’s second-biggest ad firm, though ranks a distant No. 6 globally in the industry. The ad company would benefit from better access to capital, said Bollore Group’s Chief Financial Officer Cedric De Bailliencourt.

 More Benefit

“This transaction gives Havas the benefit of the solid financial resources of Bollore and the full benefit of the Bollore Group’s international presence,” De Bailliencourt said.

Bollore is looking to “go beyond” a 50 percent ownership stake in Havas, as well as “increase the free float of the Bollore capital structure,” the CFO said.

Vincent Bollore, Bollore Group’s CEO, who has a net worth of $4.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is also Chairman of Vivendi SA (VIV) and a minority shareholder in that company. After announcing more than $30 billion of asset sales since last year, Vivendi is looking for opportunities to expand its content production and distribution businesses.