Havas Posts 3.2% Gain

BOSTON Grappling with a somewhat sluggish new-business performance and the continued strength of the euro in relation to the dollar, Havas said it posted a 3.2 percent Q1 organic revenue gain to approximately $455 million, compared to the first three months of 2006.

Organic growth disregards currency fluctuations and the impact of acquisitions. At current exchange rates, the company’s Q1 revenue was flat.

Net new business during the quarter was about $735 million, down about $100 million from Q1 2006, but still nearly 15 percent better than Havas’ average quarterly new-business performance last year.

Q1 revenue was flat in North America, but that was an improvement over the 6.7 percent revenue decline the company suffered in the region during the year-ago period as it bid farewell to longtime client Volkswagen of America.

During the quarter, Havas grew nearly 25 percent in Latin America, 8.5 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and more than 8 percent in Europe, excluding France and the U.K. Revenue was up 2.5 percent in France; it was flat in the U.K.

The recent win by Boston’s Arnold (teamed with independent Nitro in London) of the $150 million global Volvo business came too late to factor into the Q1 numbers.

Havas also owns the Euro RSCG and MPG agency networks.

Havas’ performance was not far off the mark of its French arch-rival Publicis Groupe, which earlier this month reported Q1 organic growth of about 3 percent. Havas ranks sixth among global agency groups, while Publicis ranks fourth.

Interpublic Group in New York, the third-largest player, this week reported a first-quarter organic revenue increase of 1.6 percent.