Havas Billings Up; Circle.com Doubtful/

BOSTON-Havas Advertising Wednesday said its billings rose 35.8% to 7.2 billion euros, or about $6.17 billion, for the first nine months of the year.

Excluding acquisitions, billings rose 21.9%, and excluding currency fluctuations, the rise was 13.5%, the Paris-based advertising conglomerate said.

The numbers do not reflect billings of Snyder Communications, which Havas acquired in September for $2.1 billion. Snyder, of Bethesda, Md., owns the Boston ad agency Arnold Worldwide and the interactive shop Circle.com, Baltimore.

Arnold, under chief executive Ed Eskandarian, is being used as a springboard for a new agency network and plans acquisitions in Asia, Australia and New York.

But it was unclear where Circle.com fits in. Havas said in a statement that Circle.com CEO Robert Wilke and evp/finance Victor Mandel “resigned from their posts due to differences of opinion concerning performance” with Snyder and Havas directors and managers.

Havas is “reviewing the strategic direction of Circle.com and the changing demands of the e-consultants market” and expects to finish by year’s end, Havas Chief Executive Alain de Pouzilhac said.

Meanwhile, Charlie Tarzian, formerly Circle.com’s chief strategic officer, has been named interim CEO, Tim Beckett was promoted to president and Douglas Lombardo was elevated to chief financial officer.

Circle.com lost $16.8 million in the first nine months of 2000, compared with a loss of $5.1 million for the same period a year ago, as revenue soared to $51.6 million from $22.6 million.

David Pauken, chief accounting officer, did not return a call seeking comment. Wilke and Mandel could not immediately be reached.

In September, Havas reported first-half net profit of 43 million euros, a 54.6 percent gain from the first half of 1999. The company does not report profits quarterly.

For the nine month period ended Sept. 30, Snyder reported a loss of $92.6 million on revenue of $532 million. Acquisition costs, mainly from July to September, were $89.8 million and included stockholder payouts, advisory fees and bonuses. Nine-month profit last year was $7.3 million on revenue of $465 million.