Havas in talks with equity firm Quadrangle about Grey

LONDON - Havas is in talks with US private equity firm, Quadrangle Group, about launching a possible bid for Grey Global Group after talks with another investment firm, Blackstone, broke down.

A report from Reuters said that Havas held talks last week with Quadrangle, which specialises in media deals. Talks are said to be ongoing and no deal is as yet on the table.

There has been much speculation as to whether the mid-sized advertising holding company would be able to put together a deal to buy the larger Grey.

Havas chairman, Alain de Pouzilhac, has quashed such talk in interviews with French newspapers, saying: "People in the market say Havas doesn't have the financial means -- but we do because we have financial partners."

Grey, the third-largest US advertising holding firm after Omnicom and Interpublic Group, has hired investment banks, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, to examine its strategic options, which could include a possible sale. In that event, it is believed that Grey, which owns the advertising agency, Grey Worldwide, and media planning and buying network, MediaCom, would attract a price tag of around $1.5bn.

The only other bidders to emerge so far are WPP Group, but there has been no word from chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell since the UK firm first expressed its interest, and San Francisco-based buyout firm, Hellman & Friedman.

News of the new talks follows reports on Friday that a possible bid by Havas for Grey is attracting investors to the sixth-largest advertising holding company after French media firm Bollore bought a 4%-5% stake in Havas.

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