French investor Vincent Bolloré assumed the role of chairman of Havas on Tuesday, pledging to end the “instability” at the fifth-biggest global marketing-services group and to keep it independent.
Philippe Wahl, 49, former chief executive of Caisse d'Epargne, the French bank, has been appointed chief executive.
Mr Bolloré, 53, who owns 22 per cent of the company, said that he decided to become non-executive chairman after failing to persuade French advertising legend Jean-Marie Dru to take command of Havas.
“I don't need the money. I don't need power. I don't need titles. I don't need more work,” Mr Bolloré told the Financial Times.
“People came and said to me that you have to show that you are there for the long term, [that] the best commitment for you is to become the chairman.”
Mr Bolloré described himself as “new pupil” on “the first day of school” but added that his record showed he was a builder of companies.
“My plan is to have Havas independent,” he said. “We are not interesting in selling any part of Havas.”
Mr Bolloré last month in effect pushed out Alain de Pouzilhac as chairman and chief executive of Havas.
He said he wanted a French citizen to run Havas and figured it would be best to bring in a “pure manager” to “organise all the talent”.
“I have never worked with him,” Mr Bolloré said of Mr Wahl. “It was a question of who was on the market.”
Mr Bolloré said his existing role as chairman and chief executive of the Bolloré family company stopped him from becoming chief executive of Havas.
Mr Bolloré also named three group vice-chairmen: Jacques Séguéla, chief creative officer of Euro RSCG, the global advertising agency of Havas; Fernando Rodés, chief executive of the Media Planning Group (MPG) unit; and Ed Eskandarian, chief executive of the Arnold Worldwide advertising agency.
With Mr Bolloré, the vice-chairmen will sit on a strategy committee chaired by MPG's Leopoldo Rodés. Jacques Hérail continues as chief financial officer.
Mr Bolloré said Mr Wahl would be the most senior of five directeurs généraux, or managing directors. The others are all executives from within its Euro RSCG unit: Mercedes Erra, Stéphane Fouks, David Jones and Rémi Babinet.
“My goal is to have all the people working together,” Mr Bolloré said, claiming the previous system had been prone to “baronies.”