Havas Posts Record 8% First-Half Organic Gain

BOSTON Riding strong Asia-Pacific results and surpassing most analysts’ expectations, Havas today reported record first-half organic revenue growth of 8 percent to approximately $1.184 billion, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations and acquisitions.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average predicted 6.3 percent organic growth for the half.

In constant currency terms, revenue rose 10.5 percent. At current exchange rates, the spike was slightly more than 3.5 percent.

The performance of the Paris-based holding company to a large extent mirrored that of its competitors Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe, which earlier this week also reported upbeat first-half numbers.

Fernando Rodes Vila, CEO of Havas, said in a statement that he was pleased the company sustained its momentum from 2007, when Havas enjoyed a record organic gain of 7 percent-plus. “We are now preparing for a more fragile economic environment but our performance, which exceeded our expectations, leaves us comfortable about our ability to react,” he said.

Havas said all of its businesses performed well, particularly its digital, corporate communications, media and design holdings.

All operating regions enjoyed a solid half: Asia-Pacific grew 18 percent, Europe, 8 percent, Latin-America, 7.5 percent and North America, 6.5 percent. Given economic conditions, the North American figure was especially notable and attributed in large part to “double-digit growth” by Euro RSCG.

Net new business for the half was approximately $1.78 billion, down slightly from the company’s tally in the first six months of 2007.

Havas did inject a note of caution for the rest of the year, however, noting that the impact of Dell’s departure will be reflected in the next round of Asia-Pacific numbers.

In other news of note from the first six months of the year, company chairman Vincent Bollore in May failed in his fifth attempt to gain representation on the board of directors of U.K.-based Aegis Group. Bollore — the largest single Aegis shareholder at 29 percent-plus — proposed two longtime associates, Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel, for seats. Bollore has said he wishes to combine the media operations of Aegis and Havas.

Also, Havas bid adieu to McKinney when the Durham, N.C., shop bought itself back from the company in June.

Havas will likely report its first-half net income in the next few weeks.