Don't count France out in the battle for global media, communications, and Internet customers. On Mar. 9, France's $27 billion water utility Compagnie Generale des Eaux bid to acquire French media giant Havas for $6.5 billion. The move gives CGE a 34% stake in European pay-TV leader Canal Plus and a huge print-media empire at Havas.

With $8 billion in media-based sales, says Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier, the enlarged CGE will rank No.11 globally behind the likes of Time Warner, Disney, and News Corp. Messier figures that gives CGE an entry ticket to challenge the giants--and give them a run for their money.

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