Havas posts 0.6 per cent revenue rise for first six months of 2004

Havas, which has emerged as a possible suitor for Grey Global Group, this week reported a modest return to health after an extended period in the financial doldrums.

The Paris-based communications group, the world's sixth largest, has seen its revenue rise 0.6 per cent for the first half of the year.

However, a speedier recovery has been confounded by the continued below-par performance of its US operations, which saw revenues drop by almost 6 per cent.

Havas' revenue for the first half of the year fell to £517 million, compared with £576 million in 2003. The small growth figure is accounted for by exchange rates and the sale or closure of some Havas-owned companies.

The increase leaves Havas trailing well behind its long-standing France-based rival, Publicis Groupe, which reported organic growth of 4.5 per cent for the same period.

Havas, which has undergone an extensive reorganisation, blamed US account losses at its largest network, Euro RSCG Worldwide, for the failure to report a more significant improvement.

Nevertheless, it turned in what it described as a "very satisfactory" performance in Europe. Its UK operations were particularly successful, with growth up 2.3 per cent in the second quarter compared with a 4.6 per cent decline in the first quarter.

Alain de Pouzilhac, the Havas chairman, said: "Less than a year after the strategic reorganisation, the figures for the first half demonstrate we are on the right track in terms of growth and profitability."