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Havas net profits down 22% but new business grows

LONDON - Havas has recorded net profits of €46m (£31.3m) for the year ending December 31 2006, marking a decline of 22% on 2005 levels, with operating profits falling 5% to €121m for the year.

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The results for the agency, which secured major global account wins with Reckitt Benckiser, Orange and Boehringer Ingelheim last year, are partially attributable to growing tax charges, which have risen by €9m to €25m, and a drop in operating profits.

The agency remained upbeat about the figures, saying net financial expense had been reduced by €5m, and a "sharp rise in net new business" in 2006, which it said was 30% higher than average over the last four years and now stands at €1.93bn.

Havas reduced its net debt in 2006 from €417m to €382m. The figure stood at €648m at the end of June.

Meanwhile, Vincent Bollore, chairman of Havas Group, was defeated for a third time in 10 months last week in his attempt to gain representation on the Aegis Group board.

Shareholders voted 56.3% against Bollore appointing his own representatives, Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel, as board directors.

Bollore revealed plans to increased his stake in Havas to 31% in June this year, when he will acquire an additional 4% from Sebastian Holdings. He is already the largest shareholder in the company.

Havas' board of directors will propose that shareholders approve that dividend shares stay at their 2005 level of €0.3, at the AGM on June 11.

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