7.4% Organic Rise for Havas in Q1

BOSTON Following a solid performance last year, French agency company Havas maintained momentum in the first quarter of 2008, posting a 2.5 percent revenue gain — 7.4 percent in terms of organic growth — to approximately $550 million, the company said today.

Organic growth discounts factors such as the effect of acquisitions and currency fluctuations.

“This confirms the positive trend observed through 2007, underscores the validity of our business model based on integration with digital at its core and reflects our stronger position in key markets,” said company CEO Fernando Rodes Vila, of Havas’ Q1 performance, in a statement.

Havas grew in all its operating regions. Revenue rose more than 22 percent in the Asia-Pacific theater, and improved 8 percent in Europe and 6 percent in North America.

Net new business for the quarter was more than $810 million, a 33 percent increase compared to the first six months of 2007. Key assignments included LendingTree, Humana, McDonald’s, Volvo, L’Oreal, Nationwide, Ikea, Avon and Bahamas Tourism.

Last week, Havas chairman Vincent Bollore said he would try for the fifth time in recent years to gain two seats on the board of U.K. rival Aegis Group at the London-based agency holding company’s general shareholders meeting on May 23. Bollore is Aegis’ single largest shareholder, but he has been opposed in previous attempts to gain board representation by company management owing to conflict of interest issues.

Rodes Vila weighed in last month in an interview with the Times Online in which he said he “knows for certain” that Havas and Aegis would “create value if they were put together.” Bollore is seeking to fuse the two companies’ media operations. Aegis owns the Carat media agency network and research group Synovate, among others.

Havas owns the Euro RSCG, MPG and Arnold.