Havas Media / Arena Media

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Havas Media is the umbrella for the media planning and buying units of marketing service group Havas, of which the biggest and best known was until recently traditional global network MPG. That business was officially rebranded as Havas Media in January 2013. Working alongside the main Havas Media network is secondary network Arena Media, a digital media and CRM division and a collection of specialised sports and entertainment agencies. Operating mainly in Western Europe and the Americas, Havas Media was the world's #9 network in 2014 with billings of $17.33bn (according to Recma). As one of the smallest of the consolidated global media networks, Havas Media has spent several years looking for a partner which might help boost its international coverage. So far, however, all attempts to strike a transformational deal have been frustrated. Most recently, overtures by Havas to Aegis (parent of the Carat and Vizeum networks) were repeatedly blocked by that company's shareholders. Yet despite these challenges, MPG's performance has steadily improved since 2005, and the Havas Media umbrella was created at the end of 2006 to consolidate its various associated businesses under a single management team. 

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Oct 2016: Havas acquired UK-based marketing group TargetMCG, which claims to be the country's #1 entertainment marketing agency. The group handles media and promotions for mainly independent movie distributors and software developers, as well as advertising for theatres and major art exhibitions. Current chairman is former PHD founder Nick Horswell. Founder Robert Wilkerson is CEO, but TargetMCG's controlling shareholder is actually COO Louise Gaynor, who now controls more than 50% of its equity. The deal price was not disclosed but trade sources estimated an initial payment of around £10m. TargetMCG will retain its existing management and branding operating under the umbrella of Havas Media Group UK.

Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jul 2016: Havas announced the launch of a third distinct global media network, FullSix Media, to partner Havas Media and Arena Media. The new resource, working alongside the recently acquired FullSix digital network, will absorb existing offices of Havas's Forward Media, created to manage media for Telefonica in Spain and Latin America. FullSix CEO Marco Tinelli will join the Havas Media executive committee.

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jul 2016: Universal Music Group moved its £10m UK media account from Mediacom, which has handled the business for more than 30 years. The winner was Arena Media, a unit of Havas, and the transfer is said to have resulted from the direct intervention of Vincent Bollore, chairman of Universal's parent Vivendi as well as owner of the Havas group.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th May 2016: Havas Group shuffled executives at its US media operations, recruiting former Mindshare North America chief Colin Kinsella as CEO of Havas Media USA. He replaces Lori Hiltz, who moves up to CEO, Havas Media Global Brands, overseeing key client relationships.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: In what appears to be a protest against the unsolicited purchase of a minority stake by French media giant Vivendi, games developer Ubisoft dropped Havas Media as its lead media agency in Europe after just three months, and is restoring the account to WPP's GroupM. Mindshare will handle the bulk of the business, coordinated from France. Maxus takes back the account in the UK and Germany, while MEC wins Spain and Portugal. Vincent Bollore's private investment vehicle is the controlling shareholder in both Vivendi and Havas. Ironically, Ubisoft's long-standing creative agency is BETC, also owned by Havas, but it retains its role, for now at least.

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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Havas was one of the last leading advertising groups to establish a worldwide media brand. Previously, the Mediapolis brand had operated in Northern Europe since 1980, originally a partnership with Y&R. In 1998 Havas added a US arm, acquiring what was then America's biggest independent media buyer, SFM Media Corp, with billings of over $1bn. The following year, a merger was agreed with privately owned Spanish group Media Planning. This had been established in 1978 by Leopoldo Rodés Vila (previously the founder and former owner of creative agency Tiempo until its acquisition by BBDO), and had built up a strong presence in Spain, Portugal and Latin America. The merged entity started life with around 15 offices in 10 countries worldwide, including the US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. To begin with, Havas was the largest single shareholder in the new business with 45%. But the existing Media Planning shareholders shared the majority stake in the business between them, and the business kept its HQ in Spain. 

Gradually, Havas became increasingly uncomfortable with its minority position. In 2000, the group announced plans to transfer its US agencies' media departments into the Media Planning group. The first agency to transfer was Jordan McGrath Case Euro RSCG. As part of the restructure Media Planning set up a second HQ in the US. SFM adopted the Media Planning name at the same time. Two months later, the French group announced it would buy out its Spanish partners, taking full control of the group, now branded as MPG. The agency's Spanish shareholders received E51m and a 9% stake in Havas in return for their shares. 

The group took what was intended to be another giant step forward in summer 2001, with the announcement of a merger with UK-based media independent network Tempus. Almost immediately, that deal was derailed by WPP. (See Tempus profile for more). Instead the group began absorbing the US media divisions of the Havas-owned Arnold Worldwide network, a process that did not go entirely smoothly. 

In 2003 the agency was badly dented when it lost the Orange mobile account in several territories. Probably the worst hit market was the UK, where Orange was estimated to have accounted for as much as half of billings. Rumours swirled around the company for much of 2003 and 2004, with reports that Havas had received at least one offer for a 49% stake in MPG. The buyer was not identified, but was thought by some observers to be Interpublic, seeking to strengthen its Initiative Media network. Any such negotiations were hampered towards the end of 2004 by corporate raider Vincent Bolloré's acquisition of a stake in Havas, and the uncertainty of his intentions. Further heavy blows came with the loss of the Volkswagen group account in the US in early 2005, and of the worldwide Intel account. The agency later cut 15% of its North American workforce, although it said all its offices in the region would remain open. See full profile for current activities

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