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Havas CEO to Meet Union After Harassment Claims at Paris Agency

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(Bloomberg) -- Multiple harassment claims published on an Instagram account are shaking one of Paris biggest ad agencies, with two of its top executives stepping back and its union set to press for a separate investigation.

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Havas Paris, part of the Havas SA ad group owned by French media giant Vivendi SE, has hired a law firm to launch an external probe after the anonymous harassment allegations were published, Havas wrote Wednesday in an internal email seen by Bloomberg.

A meeting between union representatives and Havas Chairman Yannick Bollore is now scheduled for May 9, according to people close to the matter. The union are set to ask for an investigation led by a law firm of its own choice, rather than Havas, one of the people added, who asked not to be named regarding private discussions.

Havas Paris Chief Executive Officer Julien Carette and Chief Creative Officer Christophe Coffre have stepped back while the allegations were being investigated, an earlier internal memo said.

A Havas spokesperson confirmed the two executives were stepping back but declined to comment while the probe is underway. A spokesman for Vivendi declined to comment.

Dozens of anonymous testimonies, ranging over the past 10 years, were posted to an Instagram account called “Balance Ton Agency.” The account, which says it reports “abuse in advertising,” gave alleged examples of moral and sexual harassment by several company managers.

Vivendi took over Havas in a 3.9 billion-euro ($4.2 billion) deal orchestrated by billionaire Vincent Bollore, who controlled both businesses. The company operates advertising firms such as Arnold Worldwide in Boston and public-relations businesses including Abernathy MacGregor, as well as several media-buying businesses.

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