Havas Reports Flat Revenue for ’06

BOSTON Havas today reported 2006 revenue of $1.9 billion, essentially flat compared with the pervious 12-month period.

In organic growth terms, factoring out fluctuations in exchange rates and consolidation factors, the performance was likewise flat.

The company trumpeted “real growth in annual revenue” for the first time in five years, though that growth was 1 percent or less regardless of the method of calculation.

A weak U.S. dollar in the fourth quarter was largely to blame for a late-year loss of momentum, according to a statement from the Paris-based holding company, which owns the Arnold, Euro RSCG and MPG agency networks.

For the full year, revenue rose nearly 20 percent in Latin America, 6 percent in Continental Europe and 2 percent in the U.K. Asia-Pacific revenue was flat. North American revenue dipped 4 percent.

Overall, the healthcare marketing, corporate communications and CRM sectors were strong, with Euro RSCG turning in an especially vibrant performance, Havas said.

The company won $2.5 billion in 2006 global net new business, including major assignments from Circuit City, GlaxoSmithKline, Progressive Direct, Peugeot-Citroen, Sanofi-Aventis and Telefonica.

It was, in some ways, a frustrating year for Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré, who was twice thwarted in his quest to place allies on the board of U.K. agency company Aegis Group. Bolloré ranks as Aegis’ largest single shareholder. Bolloré’s investment in Aegis is managed separately from Havas. He owns about 29 percent of Aegis and under U.K. takeover laws, if his ownership surpasses 30 percent, he would have to make a formal bid for the company. Bolloré has expressed interest in merging Aegis’ media units with those of Havas.

Also in 2006, Havas created a new corporate entity for its media-services agencies called Havas Media, led by CEO Alfonso Rodés Vila, who in July was named chief executive of Havas’ global media agency network, MPG.

Rodés Vila’s promotion at MPG followed the March elevation of his brother Fernando to CEO of Havas. Alfonso Rodés had previously been chief corporate development officer at MPG.

The Rodés family is the third-largest investor in Havas and cast a key vote in support of a 2005 coup by Bolloré to gain control of the company.

Havas will disclose its income in March.