Havas’ 1st-Half Profit Surges

BOSTON Riding a strong Q2 performance and reaping the benefits of business won late last year, Paris-based holding company Havas today reported 35 percent growth in first-half operating income to $105 million and a 70 percent spike in net profit to nearly $50 million, compared to the first six months of 2006.

The company in July had reported a 4.4 percent first-half ’07 revenue rise to slightly more than $1 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. Organic revenue growth for Q2 was 5.4 percent. (Organic revenue factors out the impact of acquisitions and fluctuations in exchange rates. In constant currency terms, the company’s first-half revenue was basically flat.)

Havas’ performance was boosted by clients such as ExxonMobil, Pfizer, Reckitt Benckiser and Sandofi-Aventis. The company added business from all of those during the latter stages of 2006, and spending kicked in by Q2 ’07, helping to propel the financials.

Fernando Rodés Villa, Havas CEO, said in a statement that the results “are in line with expectations.”

The company owns the Arnold, Euro RSCG and MPG agency networks.

Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré has voiced his desire to merge Havas’ media operations with those of U.K.-based Aegis Group. (The executive is a major shareholder in both organizations.) In the second quarter, Bolloré came up short in his fourth attempt in a year to place two associates on the board of Aegis.

Havas turned its attention to the Middle East this month, increasing its minority stake in luxury marketing network Chalhoub Group to a 50/50 split with current Chalhoub management. Havas said the move was part of long-term strategic plan aimed at making the Paris-based company a player in the region