PARIS: Havas Media continues to be the top-ranked media agency in France, billing €1bn more than its nearest rival in 2012 according to the latest data from Recma.

The independent research company published figures on the leading 15 agencies in the country whose aggregate billings for the year reached €12,739m, which was a 2% increase on the previous year.

Havas Media grew in line with this average and achieved a total of €3,001m in 2012, representing a 23.6% market share.

This was comfortably ahead of ZentihOptimedia which grew more rapidly, at 12%, to €1,989m and a 15.6% share.

Next came Carat, part of Dentsu. It was one of only two agencies to register a decline in activity, falling 15% to €1,918m and from second to third place. Its 15.1% market share, however, ensured it remained well ahead of the fourth spot.

OMD was the only other company to break the €1bn barrier, recording billings of €1,206m, a 5% growth rate that gave it a 9.5% share. KR Media, in fifth place, had billings of €908m and a 7.14% share.

MEC, part of GroupM, was the other agency to see negative growth, but at -8% this was half that of Carat. Sales of €382m gave it a 3.0% share.

My Media was the only independent to appear in the list, growing strongly at 14% and recording a 2.8% share with billings of €363m.

Double digit growth was also registered by Starcom (+15% to €690m), MediaCom (+13% to €471m) and UM (+14% to €162m).

Reporting the figures, Stratégies noted that the proposed merger of Publicis and Omnicom would give their combined operations – ZenithOptimedia, Starcom, OMD and PHD – a leading share in France of 32.8%.

Further afield, the merged group would take a 30.3% share across the Europe, Middle East, North Africa region.

A recent Warc analysis indicated that such a business would also be a dominant force in the world's effectiveness competitions, far surpassing WPP, the current leader in that regard.

Data sourced from Strat├ęgies; additional content by Warc staff