Havas’ First-Half Revenue Creeps Ahead

BOSTON French holding company Havas, a possible suitor for Grey Global Group, today said its revenue for the first half of 2004 was approximately $900 million, based on the current rate of exchange. That represents a drop of 6 percent at constant exchange rates and a fall of more than 10 percent on an unadjusted basis, compared to the same period last year.

Organic growth during the first half of 2004 was less than 1 percent, Havas said.

Havas’ revenue in the second quarter was $472 million, down slightly from $490 million in the same period of 2003, also up less than 1 percent in terms of organic growth, the company said.

Overall, however, the numbers represent somewhat of an improvement from recent performances. “The figures for the first half demonstrate that we are on the right track in terms of growth and profitability,” said Havas chief executive Alain de Pouzilhac, in a statement. “It is a major positive step,” in that organic growth is on the rise.

For the first half, North America and the U.K. remained soft, with organic growth dips of 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively, Havas said. Latin America, France and the Asia-Pacific regions were especially strong, with respective organic growth gains of 13, 9 and 5.3 percent.

Havas’ performance was similar to that of larger rival Publicis Groupe, which last week said its organic revenue for the first half and second quarter each rose 4.5 percent, though on a non-organic basis, Q2 revenue was up 2 percent while first-half revenue was flat. Like Havas, Publicis’ fortunes soared in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, while figures lagged in Europe and North America.

Havas said it won $920 million in Q2 net new business, a 30 percent improvement from a year ago. Major wins included Goodyear, Morgan Stanley and Timberland. Some key losses were Hillshire Farm, Stouffer’s Red Box brand and Walgreens.

Havas is parent to Arnold, Euro RSCG and Media Planning Group. The company recently expressed a desire to bid on New York-based Grey Global Group, and its shares soared nearly 10 percent to close at $4.93 last Friday [Adweek, Aug. 2].

A company representative declined comment on Havas’ intentions toward Grey Global.

In keeping with French accounting practices, Havas will release its income figures next month.