The biggest job in French publishing -- running the myriad Havas divisions in trade, reference, textbooks and multimedia -- is going to Agnès Touraine, 44. After receiving her MBA at Columbia University, Touraine worked for McKinsey in Paris, then moved into publishing via Hachette, where, in 1989, she led the mass market division including both children's books (in hard- and softcover) and the ubiquitous Livre de Poche paperback line.

In autumn 1995, Touraine moved over to Hachette's rival CEP (ex-Groupe de la Cité), creating its multimedia division, which became Havas Interactive two years later. With 51.7 billion francs in annual sales (some $9 billion at the current conversion rate), Havas is now a component of the 167-billion-franc ($29 billion) global colossus Vivendi (water supply, energy, waste disposal, transport and telecommunications).

Havas contains two operating divisions, one for publishing and one for professional information (including specialized press, books and trade exhibitions). The former, now in the charge of Touraine, combines France's leading school and reference logos (the Larousse, Bordas, Nathan and Masson groups) with trade leaders such as Laffont, Julliard, Plon, Belfond and Presses de la Cité, representing annual turnover of more than $1.8 billion. It is a 50-50 partner with Bertelsmann in France's leading book club; foreign assets include the Larousse group in the U.K. and the Anaya school, professional and trade groups in Spain.