Havas’ Organic Growth Creeps Up 1 Percent

PoBOSTON Havas on Thursday said it returned to positive organic growth during the first quarter of 2004, notching $422 million in revenue for the period, an improvement of about 1 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago. (Organic growth for the fourth quarter of 2003 had dropped nearly 4 percent.)

The overall improvement may have been slight, but Havas said the numbers are encouraging. “I am happy for our shareholders, employees and all those who have put their faith in us,” said company chairman and CEO Alain de Pouzilhac in a statement.

Quarterly growth for the Paris-based holding company was especially strong in Latin America (7.6 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region (7 percent).

The company still struggled in North America, however, with first-quarter organic growth slipping to $170 million, a drop of 3.5 percent from a year ago. North America is the company’s largest single market, accounting for a third of Havas’ global revenue

Havas said net new business in the first quarter totaled nearly $520 million, up 12 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Big wins included Danone Waters by Euro RSCG, Tyson Foods by Arnold and MPG’s retention of Air France’s global buying business and its addition of Volkswagen media chores in Spain.