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Mixed fortunes for Havas as it struggles in the UK and US

LONDON - Havas has reported a rise in first-half figures, with revenue up 2.8%, signalling a recovery for the French advertising giant, but the UK and the US markets are down.

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The figures show that for the first half of this year, revenue was up 2.8% at €719m (492.5m), compared with €700m for the first half of 2005. This represents a boost of 0.2% year on year.

These latest results also show a turnaround from the first quarter this year, with a 2.5% rise in second-quarter sales compared with a 2.4% dip for the first quarter.

A key factor is a recovery in a number of markets although these latest figures show mixed fortunes for the firm globally.

Among regions to do well was France, which reported first-half organic growth up 2.6%. Mainland Europe performed well, with organic growth up 8.2%, as Spain, Italy and Germany performed particularly well during the second quarter. Latin American interests also performed well, up 16.5%.

In contrast, organic growth was down 1% in the UK, down 5.3% across North America and down 4.8% across Asia Pacific.

Another factor in the overall growth was a number of new business wins in the second quarter, including real estate firm Cogedim in France and Hutchison Telecom in Australia on the advertising side. On the media side during the same period, Havas won the pan European account for Veolia Environnement, and work for Hotel.com and Garlik in the UK.

Meanwhile, Havas chairman Vincent Bollore is still linked with a takeover of market research and media buying group Aegis, despite recently failing to win two seats on its board.

Speaking shortly after the knockback last month, WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell said it is only a matter of time before Bollore, who already owns 29% of Aegis, snaps up the firm.

Shares in Havas were this morning holding steady with no change at €3.69.

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