Havas beats predictions

The French group's results show revenues have fallen, but not as far as expected.

The French advertising group Havas, which earlier this week appointed David Jones as the chief executive of its Euro RSCG Worldwide network, has announced better-than-expected results for the first half of 2005.

However, total revenues fell from EUR748 million in the first six months of 2004 to EUR700 million in the same period this year. The decline was chiefly attributable to the disposal of Havas assets in late 2004. Organic revenue growth was 2.2 per cent, better than the 1.7 per cent predicted by analysts.

Jones, previously the chief executive of Euro RSCG's New York operation, was installed as the Euro RSCG head following Jim Heekin's departure on Monday.

His appointment comes as part of a continuing overhaul of Havas, orchestrated by its chairman, Vincent Bollore.

Euro RSCG is now ex-pected to be strengthened through acquisition. Jones said: "What Bollore and the new Havas era brings is the money to acquire, which we are now in a position to be able to do, if it's strategically sound and we want to do it."

Jones added that he was working with Ben Langdon and Chris Pinnington, the chairman and chief executive respectively of Euro RSCG Worldwide UK, to improve the London office. The agency is currently defending its £35 million Argos account, as well as the £10 million Matalan account, which it won at the end of 2004.

Havas' revenue growth came despite a flat performance in France and the UK, which posted organic growth of 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively.

The rest of Europe performed well, with organic growth of 14.1 per cent.

Asia-Pacific, which was hit badly by the loss of its global client Intel, saw organic growth plummet 8.6 per cent.

- Opinion, page 19.