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Havas Australia merges advertising agencies as group CEO departs

Havas Group Australia has merged its advertising agencies Host and Havas Sydney to create Host/Havas.

The merged agency, which is one of the largest in Sydney, will be led by Host chief executive Laura Aldington with Havas Sydney managing director Dan Smith assuming the managing director role at Host/Havas.

The announcement coincides with the departure of Havas Group chief executive Anthony Gregorio, who is leaving the group after 15 years.

Gregorio said: “I’m very proud of the businesses I have helped to build during my 15 years with the Havas Group in Australia. In particular over the last five years, Havas has become well known for its integrated approach to brand building across creative, PR and media.

“Host/Havas will be an exciting new proposition for the Group in Australia, but I feel this is the perfect opportunity to draw a line under my Havas adventure and look for new opportunities after a well‐earned break,” Gregorio added.

Anthony Freedman, chairman Havas Group ANZ, said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank Anthony for his huge contribution over many years. He leaves a phenomenal legacy and we wish him every success in his future endeavours.”

The new Host/Havas creative agency will have a combined team of 220 people, including 100 digital specialists and will join sister agencies Red Agency and Havas Media in the Havas Village Sydney site on Clarence Street.

Freedman said the merged agency would combine, “cut‐through creativity” with “state‐of‐the‐art marketing science” and “will blend network scale with start‐up spirit”.

The move is the latest advertising agency merger in Australia, which is one of the most saturated markets for advertising agencies. Other recent mergers include AKQA's merger with WPP digital agency DT and JWT Melbourne's merger with independent creative agency Girl.