In June, chairman Vincent Bollore predicted 2009 sales would not fall more than 10% and the company would limit the impact on earnings through cost controls. Havas, whose clients range from France Telecom to Coca-Cola, achieved net new business of $1.16 billion and cut net debt by 47%.
Last week, media buying agency Aegis, also majority-owned by Bollore, posted a 10.8% fall in first-half like-for-like sales. Bollore is the largest shareholder of Havas, with a 32.9% stake. He is also the largest shareholder of Aegis with 29.9%. The situation has fueled speculation Bollore could seek to merge the two groups to help them better compete with larger rivals, such as Publicis or WPP.