March 02, 2009 12:49 ET


SURESNES, FRANCE--(Marketwire - March 2, 2009) - 2008 RESULTS:

Net income, group share: EUR 104 million, up by 25%

Net debt down sharply to EUR 79 million

Annual revenue: EUR 1,568 million; organic growth +4.7%; reported growth +2.3%

Q4 organic growth of 2.0%: one of the sector's best performances despite a high comparison basis (Q4 2007 of +9.8%)

Operating income: EUR 189 million, up +12.5% on 2007, operating margin at 12.1% compared to 11% in 2007 and 8.2% in 2006

Net income, Group share: EUR 104 million at +25% on 2007, and double the level of 2006.

Significant improvement in gearing1 (8%) with net debt divided by 3 compared to 2007 and reduced to EUR 79 million.

Net New Business2 still strong at EUR 1.6 billion

Strong growth in digital business which now accounts for 14% of total revenue.

Targets set in the 2006 4-year plan achieved one year early:

Organic growth (+ 4.7%) now up amongst the market leaders

Operating margin (12.1%) well within the industry average

Net debt reduced by a factor of 5 compared to 2006 and one of the lowest gearing1 in the sector

Fernando Rodés Vilà, Chief Executive Officer of the Havas Group, hailed this improvement in results, achieved in a challenging economic climate:

"For the first time in its history, Havas posts a net income of over 100 million euros. We ended 2008 with +4.7% growth and a fourth quarter with +2.0% growth while the industry as a whole is for the moment reporting weaker or negative growth. Despite a much weakened economic environment, our ability to adapt, our creativity, our media expertise, growth in our digital business and the balanced geographic spread of our revenues enabled us to achieve these results for full year 2008. For the second year running, all our regions contributed to growth. Operating margin has grown steadily, from 8.2% in 2006 to 11.0% in 2007 and 12.1% in 2008.

This performance bears out the pertinence of our operating plan introduced in 2006, when we launched a far-reaching program of winning new markets, restoring our margins and reinforcing the Group's financial structure. At the time, we set ourselves two major targets to achieve four years out:

- the highest annual growth rate in the market;

- profitability in line with that of the profession.

Thanks to the results reported for 2008, we have achieved these targets a year early. All Havas' fundamentals - organic growth, New Business, profitability and financial capacity - are now positive and competitive once again.

These results were made possible by the trust our clients have placed in us. They are the outcome of the hard work, creativity and cohesion of all the Group's teams all over the world, and our executive committee would like to thank them for their dedication and their commitment to our clients."

The Board of Directors, meeting on March 2, 2009 under the chairmanship of Vincent Bolloré, approved the annual accounts for the 2008 financial year.

2008 2007 2006

|Operating income         |  189€M|  168€M|  121€M|
|Operating margin         |  12.1%|  11.0%|   8.2%|
| Net income (Group share)|  104M€|   83M€|   46M€|
|Net debt                 |   79M€|  226M€|  382M€|
|Digital business         |    14%|    11%|     9%|
1. Revenue

Group revenue for 2008 was EUR 1,568 million, for organic growth of +4.7%.

Agencies including Euro RSCG New York, Euro RSCG Chicago, Euro RSCG London and KLP Euro RSCG, posted double-digit organic growth, while Euro RSCG C&O, Euro RSCG Life USA and BETC Euro RSCG significantly outperformed the market. In the United Kingdom, Euro RSCG London was ranked 5th largest and fastest-growing top 5 UK advertising agency by Campaign.

All Havas Media agencies have posted growth above the market average or in double-digits and for the first time in certain countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland, agencies have posted the fastest growth (in the United Kingdom, Nielsen figures showed that MPG UK had the fastest growth in the market). Havas Media Spain won 45% of the total volume of new business for the first 6 months of 2008 according to a report by Grupo Consultores.

Reported revenue grew by +2.3% over 2007, mainly due to a weak US dollar and UK pound against the euro. The overall negative exchange rate impact on the Group was EUR 67 million over full year 2008 compared to EUR 51 million over full year 2007.

The fourth quarter of 2008, with revenue of EUR 450 million, produced organic growth of +2.0%. This more than satisfactory outcome which is superior to most of our peers, was reached in challenging market conditions and set against a particularly high benchmark (organic growth of +9.8% in Q4 2007).

Growth continued to be sustained in all mature markets, except for Arnold in the USA. We further consolidated our presence in rapidly developing countries with growth of +20% in India, Russia and Brazil.

The breakdown of revenue by region in Q4 and full year 2008 was as follows:

(Please see table in attached release).

2. Results

► Operating income rose to EUR 189 million, an increase of +12.5% over 2007 and of +56% over 2006. Operating margin of 12.1% in 2008 gained +110 bps over 2007 and +390 bps over 2006, thanks to continued efforts to contain costs.

► Net income, Group share of EUR 104 million in 2008 was up +25% on 2007 and 126% up on 2006.

► Earnings per share increased by +26% to 24 cents (EUR ) in 2008 compared to 19 cents (EUR ) in 2007 and 11 cents (EUR ) in 2006.

3. Financial structure

The Group's financial structure underwent further reinforcement in 2008:

- Net debt at December 31, 2008 was reduced to just EUR 79 million compared to EUR 226 million at December 31, 2007, a reduction of 65%,

- At December 31, 2008, gearing was 8%, with net debt representing 4 months' EBITDA,

- debt maturity, which had already been extended from two and a half years in 2006 to four years in 2007, remains at over four and a half years at the start of 2009,

- and average debt3 over full year 2008 was EUR 295 million, down by 24%.

This considerable reduction in net debt is due to:

- a high level of cash generation thanks to strong results and unremitting attention to the Group's rigorous cash management policy: operating cash flow was EUR 292 million in 2008 compared to EUR 264 million in 2007 and EUR 86 million in 2006,

- and a lower level of financial investment at approximately EUR 58 million paid out over the 2008 financial year.

The improvement in its cash position left the Group with cash of EUR 912 million at December 31, 2008, more than sufficient to redeem the EUR 450 million or so of 2002-2009 OCEANE (bonds convertible and/or exchangeable for new or existing Havas shares) maturing on January 2, 2009. The Group is not now required to make any significant reimbursement of its gross medium-term financial debt before the end of 2011.

In addition, the Group's liquidity is highly satisfactory with unused medium term credit lines of EUR 170 million and approaching EUR 300 million in short-term credit lines.

4. Net New Business2

Net new business remained very buoyant throughout the year. At EUR 1.6 billion for full-year 2008, this was once again once of the strongest relative performances in the sector.

Euro RSCG continued to add major global clients and advertising assignments in 2008 - the largest global wins in 2009 included: New York Stock Exchange, Chivas (Pernod Ricard), Numico (Danone's newly acquired global baby food division) and Jaguar's Global Digital business. These wins together with new assignments from existing clients such as Kraft (Ritz Europe), Reckitt Benckiser and Sanofi Aventis helped ensure that Euro RSCG was named for the 3rd year in a row by Advertising Age as the world's largest agency in terms of global clients.

Havas Media won impressive new clients at global and regional level including including Hugo Boss, Lan, Telefonica, Reckitt Benckiser, Mucinex, La Française des Jeux and Banorte and other agencies within Havas Worldwide won new clients such as Monoprix, Carnival and Volvo.

Havas Media was able to add major global and regional wins such as Hugo Boss, Lan, Tourespaña, Hermes, Incredible India!, Sol Melia, Swarovski, bmi, C&C Group, Corona, Festina, Florette, InterRhône, Tourism of Morocco, Svenson, Telmex, RedBull, Toshiba, Tourism of Turkey and Wrangler. Havas Media also able won additional business with existing key clients such as Reckitt Benckiser (USA, Austria, Poland) and Danone (Indonesia, Switzerland).

We can also note the strong performance in new business of other agencies within Havas Worldwide which won prestigious new clients including Monoprix, Carnival Cruises and Volvo, amongst others.

Please refer to Appendix 2 for more detail on 2008 New Business.

5. Outlook

2008 set the seal on the improvement in profitability and financial structure that the Havas Group has been pursuing since 2006.

Thanks to strong cash generation and tight control of costs and WCR, Havas now boasts one of the strongest financial structures in its sector and one of the lowest levels of net debt in the market.

This position of strength enables us to face the current challenging economic climate with confidence in the Group's ability to transform New Business into extra revenue and to pitch successfully for new accounts.

The Group adopted a more agile and simplified structure by organizing itself around two main Business Units: Havas Worldwide and Havas Media. The Group will continue to prioritize organic growth by encouraging cooperation between its two business units and putting digital at the heart of all our businesses in all our markets. We see our well-established positions in mature markets as giving us an advantage in view of the expected slowdown in emerging markets.

We will also continue to focus on innovation - in tools and ideas - to refine our analysis of new consumer attitudes and behavior and to measure the efficacy of communication strategies with ever greater accuracy in order to create value for our clients.

6. Major Digital Awards

The latest Big Won Report ranked BETC Euro RSCG's "Ad Auction" campaign for eBay as the 4th most awarded Alternative & Innovative Media Campaign worldwide.

The New York Festivals Innovative Advertising Awards presented a Gold and Silver to Euro RSCG 4D Amsterdam for its campaign for VolvoXC90, "The Hunt 2007" and for VolvoXC70 "70X XC70" respectively.

The "Beat Billy" campaign, created by Euro RSCG Singapore for The Crowbar Awards, was named Interactive Campaign of the Year at the Singapore Advertising Hall of Fame.

The WebAwards awarded the group's agencies with a total of 11 prizes to Euro RSCG 4D London, Euro RSCD 4D Amsterdam, Euro RSCG 4D Portland, Euro RSCG San Francisco and Palm Arnold for their work for the following clients: Peugeot, Kraft, Volvo, Barclays, Disneyland Paris; and 4 prizes for Arnold Boston for .ESPN, Ocean Spray, American Legacy and Tony Hawk Proving.

InfoBrand Magazine ranked Euro RSCG Buenos Aires as number one in their Top 10 of the most innovative agencies in Argentina.

At the EPICA Awards BETC Euro RSCG won 2 Silvers for "Adopt Sci Fi" (NBC Universal) in the Web and Integrated category as well as a Bronze for "Tower of Terror" (Disneyland Paris) in the web category. Euro RSCG 4D Amsterdam won 2 Bronzes in the web and integrated categories for "Rush an interactive adventure" (Volvo).

At the Méribel Ad Festival BETC Euro RSCG took home a Cristal Europe in the corporate web site category for "Tribute to Lacoste" (Lacoste) and Euro RSCG 4D Amsterdam also won a Cristal Europe for the digital project "A coffee named desire" (Kraft/Carte Noire).

Media Contacts Spain won Gold as Best Online Media Agency at the Interactive Awards in Spain and Havas Digital Mexico has been named Best Media Agency of the Year.

BLM Quantum was named 2008 UK Digital Agency of the Year at the IMA Awards.

Havas Digital US was named "Bronze Award Agency of the Year 2008 for Media Planning & Buying" by OMMA

At the Cannes International Advertising Festival, Media Contacts/MPG Spain and AIS (UK) won 2 Bronze Cyber Lion Awards for and O2 respectively.

Havas Media won 5 awards at the Eurobest, including a Grand Prix for the Launch of the BBC's Video on Demand Service, iPlayer, created by MPG London and Media Contacts UK.

Media Contacts/Mobext Brazil won Gold for Citroën at the MMA Awards in the Cross Media Integration category.

Lattitud Spain won a Bronze EFI award for Editorial Planeta "La Ruta prohibida" in the Campaign Media Efficiency category.

AIS won the IAB award for Indigo O2 at the IAB Creative Showcase Awards.

Media Contacts Argentina won 2 Silver AMAUTA awards for its campaigns for Coca-Cola Zero and Repsol YPF and 2 Bronzes for Renault.

Media Contacts/MPG International UK and Media Contacts Italy won Best Financial Advertiser for their trading game initiative for BGI iShares at the M&M Awards.

At the AOL/Media Week Awards, Media Contacts/MPG UK won Best Cross Media campaign for Camelot.

Havas Digital collected some thirty major awards for its interactive and cross-media campaigns at national and international level.

7. Major Creative Awards

BETC Euro RSCG was named Creative Agency of the Year by CB News.

Euro RSCG Prague was named Advertising Agency of the Year for the second time in a row (and for the 4th time in 5 years) by Strategie and the Czech Association of Communication Agencies (AKA).

Euro RSCG C&O was named Best Corporate French Agency at the Sabre European Awards.

In November, MPG Argentina won the Jerry Goldenberg Award for Argentina's best media agency of the year, for the fifth year in succession.

Havas Media France, Havas Sports France and Compagnie 360 Euro RSCG were voted Media Agency, Sports Marketing Agency and Integrated Agency of the Year respectively at the 28th "Agencies of the Year" Grand Prix.

MPG Poland was named "Best Agency of 2008" by Media i Marketing Polska.

BETC Euro RSCG won a Yellow Pencil at the D&AD Awards in the broadcast innovation category for its eBay campaign, making it the second French agency to have won this award in 45 years.

At the Cresta International Advertising Awards in October, Arnold Boston, Euro RSCG Santiago, Euro RSCG Prague, Euro RSCG New York and Euro RSCG Zuerich took a total of eight awards.

At the London International Advertising Awards, Arnold Boston, Euro RSCG Spain, Euro RSCG Santiago, Euro RSCG Flagship and The Furnace in Australia won a total of 8 awards, including 3 Golds: one for Euro RSCG Spain for its "Athlete" print ad for Strepsil, the second for Euro RSCG Santiago for its "Cat" print ad for the Peugeot 207 RC and the third for The Furnace (print campaign for Skins/radiator).

At the "El Ojo de Iberoamerica" Latin America festival, Euro RSCG Buenos Aires, Euro RSCG Santiago, Euro RSCG Sao Paulo, Euro RSCG Lisbon, Euro RSCG Spain and Euro RSCG Vice Versa notched up a total of 15 awards, including 3 Golds.

At the EPICA Awards, one of Europe's largest award shows, BETC Euro RSCG, Euro RSCG Muendchen, Euro RSCG Zurich, Euro RSCG London, Leg, Euro RSCG Athènes and Euro RSCG 4D Amsterdam were all awarded prizes. BETC Euro RSCG won a total of 10 prizes for "Ad Auction" (Ebay) in integrated media.

At the Méribel Ad Festival, BETC Euro RSCG emerged as the most awarded agency, taking four Cristal awards including two Grand Cristal France and Europe trophies (Integrated and Media) for eBay's "Ad Auction" campaign.

Euro RSCG Shanghai won 5 prizes (2 Silver and 3 Bronze) at the Long Xi Global China Advertising Awards and Euro RSCG Hong Kong won 2.

At the China 4A Golden Seal Creative Awards, Euro RSCG Shanghai won 3 awards, including a Silver and a Bronze for the Greenpeace campaign "Plastic Bag, Disposable Chopsticks, Disposable Mess Tin".

APPENDIX 1: Financial Information 7950-Havas2008.pdf

APPENDIX 2: New Business 7950-Havas2008.pdf

This information is provided by HUGIN

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