Havas Improves Organic Growth for 4Q, Full Year

BOSTON French holding company Havas today reported 2004 revenue of about $1.91 billion and fourth-quarter revenue of approximately $520 million.

Viewed in terms of organic growth and calculated at constant rates of exchange, those numbers represent improvements of 2 and 5 percent, respectively, compared with the year-ago figures.

All told, however, the company’s revenue for the year and quarter dipped about 1 and 7 percent, respectively, based on the current rate of exchange.

Havas claimed a 60 percent rise in net new business in 2004 totaling about $1.9 billion. Keys wins included Charles Schwab, Pfizer and Vonage (in the U.S.); Eurotel, Glaxo and telecom company Orange (in Europe); Pantech (in China); and Coca-Cola and CTI Movil (both in Argentina).

“This doubling in the rate of organic growth in our fourth quarter revenue underlines even more positively the turnaround achieved by Havas since the start of 2004,” said company CEO Alain de Pouzilhac in a statement. “Our [net income] results to be presented in early March will show … that all the targets management has set itself over the year have been achieved and even exceeded.”

He added: “We can only be optimistic for [our] 2005 performance.”

Havas pointed out that the year began well with wins for its Media Planning Group ($90 million AutoZone) and Arnold ($30 million Lukoil).

Even so, the company is bracing for the departures of two major accounts: Intel’s $300 million global business and Volkswagen’s $500 million North American media assignment. The impact of those impending losses have yet to be reflected in terms of financial performance or staffing.

French financier Vincent Bolloré has in recent months taken a stake of about 20 in Havas. Though Bolloré has said he is seeking several seats on its board, he has also indicated he has no immediate plan to attempt a takeover of the company [Adweek Online, Oct. 27].