He will be replaced by Jerry Buhlmann, the current CEO of Aegis Media Europe, Middle East and Africa, who oversees about 70% of Aegis Group's business, according to the company. Aegis didn't give any reasons for Mr. de Nardis' departure, but Aegis Group CEO Robert Lerwill said the time was right for Mr. Buhlmann to take over.
'Done nothing wrong'
"Mainardo's done nothing wrong," Mr. Lerwill said. "The numbers are great. No big event has caused this; it's an evolution. The board of Aegis and I have decided it's appropriate for Jerry to take over the reins."
Mr. de Nardis could not immediately be reached on his cellphone for comment.
Mr. de Nardis came to the London-based Aegis about two years ago after working as the global CEO at WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia. Aegis waited patiently for Mr. de Nardis -- about 10 months -- as WPP's CEO Martin Sorrell took him to court to enforce a non-compete clause in his contract.
During his time at Aegis, Mr. de Nardis has overseen global growth of the network -- Aegis Media reported a 10.3% organic growth in 2007 -- and the reorganization of Carat USA around digital. During his time there, the holding company also fended off multiple attempts by French financier Vincent Bollore, the chairman of Havas and Aegis' largest shareholder, to gain seats of Aegis' management board. Mr. Bollore has said he wants to merge Havas' media operations with Aegis'.
Mr. de Nardis is one of the best known media executives in Europe. Raised in Italy, he entered the media world in 1987, when he became deputy chairman and partner at independent MediaNetwork. In 1992, the company merged with CIA which was later bought by WPP. Mr. De Nardis oversaw the merging of CIA with Mediaedge.
The announcement is the second major shakeup at Aegis Media. Just two weeks ago, Sarah Fay, the previous CEO of Carat, was picked to take over as the CEO of Aegis North America as Mr. Verklin steps down.
'Business as usual'
Mr. Buhlman said despite the management changes, it will be "business as usual" at Aegis. "We have a lot of strength in terms of local marketplace, it's a broad management team," he said. "People do change, people do move on, but fundamentally the business is very strong."
Speaking about his outlook for the network, he says he wants to keep the momentum of global growth and continue to build on an integration model.
"Fundamentally we believe in integration and we see that as a high growth rate," he said. "We will continue to build and accelerate in digital and drive integration and extend our geographical range in high growth markets in Asia, Russia and Latin America."
Mr. Buhlmann started his career at Young & Rubicam, then went on to found U.K. media agency BBJ, which was later acquired by Aegis. Prior to becoming CEO of Aegis Media EMEA, he was the CEO of Carat International.