Anemic Dollar Sinks Revenue at French Holding Companies

A weaker U.S. dollar hurt revenue at French agency holding companies in the first quarter. Publicis Groupe and Havas, which have been aggressive in making acquisitions in the U.S. in recent years, said organic revenue growth dropped because of the stronger euro and a March slowdown in the U.S. marketplace as the Iraqi conflict escalated.

Publicis’ organic revenue dropped 1.2 percent in the quarter. Including revenue from the Bcom3 acquisition last September, total revenue rose 57.1 percent to $1 billion from the same period last year, according to Publicis.

Havas’ revenue fell 8.6 percent to $461.3 million. Organic revenue was off 5.8 percent.

Both companies voiced optimism about a turnaround in North America. The Paris-based companies underscored that organic-revenue declines in the region—off 0.8 percent for Publicis, and down 2.6 percent for Havas—were smaller than they were in previous quarters. —NOREEN O’LEARY