Havas Group

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Havas Group was for years France's biggest advertising organisation, until toppled by the phenomenal growth over the past two decades of arch-rival Publicis. It is now the last survivor of what was once a sizeable second tier of smaller international marketing organisations. Others such as Aegis, Grey and Saatchi & Saatchi had already been bought by larger marketing groups. Havas remained independent, before it too was acquired by media group Vivendi during 2017. At the same time, most of its main subsidiaries have been re-consolidated to form a single diversified offering under the banner of Havas Village. In the most significant such move, creative network Havas and media buyer Havas Media were combined in 2017 under a single management team. Several separate standalone units remain, not least renowned creative agency BETC and secondary US agency Arnold. The group's performance has stabilised after a rocky few years. Rapid and sometimes reckless expansion during the 1990s created serious problems after 2001. Despite a general recovery in the wider worldwide industry, Havas's billings and revenues continued to underperform rivals in the early 2000s, and this eventually led to the intervention of wealthy investor Vincent Bolloré, who seized control of the business in 2005. That change of ownership and renewed financial stability made a significant difference to the group, although Havas's size still made it vulnerable within the rapidly consolidating industry. As a result, as most observers had long anticipated, media group Vivendi, also controlled by Bolloré, assumed ownership of Havas during 2017. The business continues to operate as a distinct division within the wider group, but Vivendi's spread also offers multiple opportunities for cross-divisional partnership with siblings Universal Music and Canal+. It's now the third largest business within Vivendi with net revenues in 2020 of €2.1bn, and EBITDA of €121m. There are three principal divisions: Havas Creative (45% of revenues), Havas Media (32%) and Havas Health & You (23%). Yannick Bolloré, son of Vincent Bolloré, is chairman & CEO of Havas Group, as well as chairman of parent Vivendi.

Capsule checked 13th April 2021

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Havas's quarterly organic growth since 2016 (subscribers only)

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Apr 2021: Havas delivered what it described as "better than expected" performance in Q1, coming close to positive growth. Total revenues including rebillable costs were positive, but the net figure of €478m represented an organic decline of -0.8%. Unlike most rivals whose biggest market is North America, Havas derives the largest share (almost 49%) of revenues from Europe, which was back in the black at modest 0.3% growth. North America (39% of revenues) was down by another -1.6%.

Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Mar 2021: Havas posted an improved performance for 4Q 2020 with the decline in organic revenues slowing to -7.5%. That puts it behind Publicis and Interpublic, but ahead of Omnicom, Dentsu and MDC Partners. (WPP reports next week). For the full year, the decline was -9.9%. Reported figure for the year was €2.05bn, with EBITA of €121m. The group's best performing market was North America where the full year decline was -4.0%. However, Europe, still Havas's most important region was down -12.7%.

Adbrands Daily Update 21st Oct 2020: Havas had another difficult quarter in 3Q but an organic decline of -10.4% to net revenues of €472m was at least a significant improvement on the previous period. North America was less badly affected at -7.2% than Europe, down -12.2%.

Adbrands Daily Update 31st Jul 2020: Havas took a sizeable hit from the Covid pandemic during 2Q, with revenues falling by -18.3% on an organic basis. The reported figure was €470m. However, as a wholly owned division of Vivendi, the group was partly insulated from the full impact of that by greater resilience elsewhere in the group, notably in Unversal Music and Canal+. Vivendi as a whole was down -7.9% organic. Havas suffered its worst performance during the quarter in Europe, still its biggest market overall. Organic decline there was -22.9% for 2Q, compared to -8.0% in North America. For the full first half, Havas's EBITDA slumped by a little over half to €46m.

Adbrands Daily Update 27th May 2020: Weeks after its peers, Dentsu finally published financial results for 1Q. With all results now in, surprise leader of the pack for 1Q was MDC Partners at 2.0%, while Omnicom and Interpublic both weighed in at 0.3%. Dentsu came next at -0.8%, followed by Publicis at -2.9% and WPP and Havas both on -3.3%.

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