Havas Reports Income up 25% for 2008

French Ad Company Also Cut Net Debt by 65%

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NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- A global recession did not prevent Paris-based marketing group Havas from posting a 25% jump in 2008 profits.

The company today announced its income in the year rose to $131 million from $105 million in 2007. Group revenue amounted to $1.97 billion in 2008. The company has cut its net debt to $99.4 million from $284 million in 2007 -- a 65% decrease that the company attributed to "rigorous cash management."

"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," Fernando Rodes Vila, CEO Havas Group, said in a statement.

The company, which is the parent of Euro RSCG, Arnold Worldwide and MPG, has a client roster that includes Danone, Sanofi Aventis, Jaguar, Kraft, Carnival Cruise lines and Volvo.

Havas recently undertook another restructuring of its operations, this time organizing around two business units, Havas Worldwide and Havas Media.

Among the major holding companies, Havas and Interpublic Group of Cos. are the star performers in terms of improved results, even in a challenging economy. Last week, Interpublic said it doubled profit in 2008 to $265 million. Much smaller player MDC Partners also turned in a solid performance.

Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group were nearly flat in the year, posting a 1.1% fall in profit to $580 million and 2.5% increase to $1.3 billion, respectively.

London-based WPP later this week will be the last major marketing holding company to post its full-year 2008 results.

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