Rumours of a possible takeover at Publicis won’t go away, after the French media reported media giant Vivendi had held talks with the agency group.
French news service BFMTV reported that there had been “discussions” between Publicis and Vivendi – which owns Havas – in “recent months”.
The rumours have since been quashed by Vivendi, which described the report as “unfounded”.
Despite the denial, there is still the belief that Vivendi would bring Publicis on-board and merge it with Havas.
It’s not the first time that this same merger has come to light.
When Vivendi bought a majority stake of Havas in 2017, Vivendi touted the acquisition as a “major milestone in our drive to build a global leader in content, media, and communication”.
With Vivendi also owning Universal Music, television company Canal+ as well as businesses involved in book publishing, subscription TV, ticketing and video hosting, the prospect of bolstering up Havas with the bigger Publicis would strengthen the holding company’s media and communication offering.
There is also the fact that both Vivendi and Publicis Groupe are listed on the Paris stock exchange.
Forbes valued Publicis at $US20 billion ($26 billion).
Vivendi’s top shareholder Vincent Bollore also has experience in this field, having previously purchased a stake in Britain’s Aegis Group before selling it to Dentsu in 2013.
The BFMTV also suggested Publicis last year held talks with private equity firm CVC about the possibility of taking the ad agency off the stock market.
If any potential Publicis takeover is to happen, it would require sign-off from Elisabeth Badinter, the daughter of company founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. Badinter and her family are top shareholders in Publicis Groupe.
There have been rumours that Badinter has been eyeing off a sale – which would see her pocket approximately $US3 billion from her 13 per cent holding in the company – since the failed Publicis-Omnicom merger in 2013.
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