By Nick Kostov

BARCELONA--Havas SA (HAV.FR) Chief Executive Yannick Bollore said Friday he could see mutual benefits from a merger with Vivendi SA (VIVEF), which is chaired by his father Vincent Bollore.

"I totally see what a company like Havas could bring to a company like Vivendi and I totally see the benefits for Havas to be able to be in a bigger group and to develop long term," he said at a Morgan Stanley conference.

Asked whether he would be working for Havas or Vivendi when he returns to the conference in coming years, he said, "That I don't know."

French tycoon Vincent Bolloreowns around 60% of Havas as well as a large stake in Vivendi through a family-controlled group. In the past two years, he has fostered closer cooperation between Vivendi's units in a bid to create an integrated media group with a focus on southern Europe.

Yannick Bollore, who joined Vivendi's board in May, stressed that no formal talks are taking place between the two companies. He said any merger would need to be based on development rather than a plan to cut costs.

"We are evolving in the same sectors, we are very focused on big data, big content, innovation," he said.

Any tie-up could raise conflict-of-interest issues given Vivendi's ownership of media assets like Canal Plus. Havas earns a large percentage of its revenue from buying advertising space on TV and radio, in print and online.

Yannick Bollore described the conflict as "marginal" because Vivendi represents 0.5% of Havas's revenue and Havas's clients account for 0.9% of Vivendi's revenue. He said the conflict already exists because the two companies share a common shareholder and an agreement is in place to keep the media buying arm separate from the unit that owns media.

Write to Nick Kostov at nick.kostov@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 18, 2016 09:18 ET (14:18 GMT)

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