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Havas pays Vivendi £2.8m
for the rights to its name

LONDON - As advertising groups struggle with falling revenue and lay off staff, Havas Advertising, owner of the Euro RSCG advertising network, has spent £2.8m to buy the name "Havas" from owners Vivendi Universal.

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Until now, Havas has been leasing the name from the Vivendi media group, which was also previously its biggest shareholder.

The near £3m price tag will likely surprise some, as the Havas name is not a brand under which any of Havas's agencies operate. Aside from Euro RSCG, Havas owns the Media Planning Group, Arnold Communications and ehsrealtime.

The Havas name had no origins in advertising, but instead dates back to 1835 and Charles Louis Havas, who was the founder of the world's first news agency.

Havas was the group's original name, but it added the "Advertising" tag in 1996. It is expected to revert to Havas at its next shareholders meeting.

In a statement, Alain de Pouzilhac, chairman and CEO of Havas, said he was "delighted" with the agreement for several reasons. "The first is emotional -- Havas is a brand that I love. A number of very talented people have devoted a great deal of their time and energy to transform it into a winner. The second is strategic -- it is a powerful brand, well known, multi-functional, with incredibly strong global potential," he said.

He added that the agreement would "enable us to continue to nurture this great brand".

At the beginning of October, Havas revealed a one-off loss of £4.3m for the first half of the year. At that time, de Pouzilhac warned that the company faced a tough second half of the year.

Shares in Havas, listed on the Paris Bourse, were trading down by 2.13% when the market opened this morning, valued at €9.20.

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