Havas Group suspends affiliate agency investments in Russia

Havas Group has said it will suspend any further investments in Russia / The Drum

Havas Group has announced it is to indefinitely suspend new investments in Russia in response to the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the French holding company told The Drum: “We have agreed to freeze all the new investments in the country until a peace resolution is reached.“

The announcement, made as the Vivendi-owned business revealed its financial results for 2021, follows similar moves from British holding company WPP and consultancy group Accenture.

Havas operates in Russia on an affiliate basis through the local ADV Group, which serves the agency network's clients in the Russian market on its behalf. The spokesperson explained: “We don’t operate directly in Russia. It is a local partner that serves our global clients.“

Havas owns a minority stake in ADV and had been planning on deepening its involvement with the firm prior to the invasion.

The fate of its remaining operations in Russia will be decided on a client-by-client basis. Havas’ spokesperson said: “Whether they continue to operate with the affiliate partner in the Russian market is their decision.“

While Havas does not directly employ any staff in the country, ADV employs hundreds of people. The spokesperson told The Drum: “The affiliate is a Russian operation with Russian people and a primarily local client base, and it continues to operate independently.“

In its email statement, Havas also stated its objection to the invasion itself. The statement said: “We are all deeply concerned by the situation in Ukraine. The devastating violence has shocked us profoundly and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this conflict.

“Havas is present in Ukraine – we have 250 people working in three agencies. We are very concerned for their welfare. Our absolute priority since the beginning of the war has been to do everything we can to provide the financial and logistical support to our teams there.

“We have been struck by the great outpouring of solidarity within our group: our teams in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Baltics have been assisting those able to cross the border from Ukraine by providing transport, provisions and even welcoming them into their homes. We are following the situation very closely.“

Full-year results

The announcement on its operations in Russia followed the publication of parent company Vivendi’s financial results for 2021, including those of Havas.

Organic growth in 2021 was 10.4%, compared to -9.9% in 2020 and -1% in 2019. Net revenue was €2.23bn ($2.47bn) and its operating profit, or earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITA), was €239m ($263m), with a margin of 10.7%.

Havas’s business is heavily skewed toward its European territories, with almost 50% of its revenue coming from Europe, though its Latin American agencies saw organic growth of 30.8% across the board. Most of its revenue comes from healthcare (29.3%), finance (10.8%) and consumer goods clients (9.7%).

This article was last updated at 2.30, 10 March.