Havas Posts Mixed Results

BOSTON Havas has reported first-half revenue of $863 million and second-quarter sales of $452 million.

Those numbers represented declines of about 6.5 and 5.5 percent, respectively, compared to the first half and second quarter of 2004.

In organic-growth terms, however, Havas said its Q2 revenue rose 3 percent, while its half-year sales increased 2.2 percent, compared to the year-ago periods.

The Paris-based holding company said Q2 net new business totaled $615 million and included assignments from Diesel, RadioShack and Sony.

So far this year, Havas’ organic revenue in Latin America and Europe rose 19 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively. Revenue in the U.K. and North America has been flat, while the Asia-Pacific region is down nearly 6 percent.

Havas attributed the lags in the U.S. and Asia to the losses of Volkswagen media and Intel’s global account, respectively.

Havas in a statement said it “considers that these figures reflect the start of the group’s recovery, but that they must be significantly improved upon by regaining market share in order to close the gap with our main competitors.” Havas ranks sixth among agency holding companies.

A Havas representative declined comment on whether the company intends to make a bid for London-based Aegis Group, parent of the Carat media agency network. An Aegis rep also refused to comment. Shares in Aegis rose this week as European media reported that such a deal could be forthcoming.

On Thursday, a principal company of Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré, said it had recently upped its stake in Aegis to more than 6 percent. Bolloré representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

In June, Havas underwent a major upheaval as investor Bolloré won seats for himself and three associates on the company’s board, prompting the resignation of CEO Alain de Pouzilhac. After efforts to recruit TBWA Worldwide executive Jean-Marie Dru as CEO failed, Bolloré was named chairman and Philippe Wahl was installed as CEO [Adweek Online, July 12].

Havas owns Arnold, Euro RSCG and Media Planning Group.

This story updates an earlier item with news of Bolloré’s heightened investment in Aegis.