Vivaki Parts Ways With Warren Hui and Ye Pengtao

Publicis Media Arm Now Searching for New China Leader

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BEIJING ( -- Two months after two of its senior executives in China were questioned in regard to a local corruption investigation, Vivaki Exchange says it has decided to replace them at the Publicis Groupe company. Vivaki Exchange is Publicis Groupe's consolidated media buying arm for Starcom MediaVest Group, ZenithOptimedia and Solutions Digitas.

The executives, Vivaki's China CEO Warren Hui and Ye Pengtao, general manager-expansion, China, became embroiled in an investigation of Zheng Zhixiang, who works for media-brokerage firm Chongqing Huayu among other businesses.

Mr. Zheng is accused of laundering money through a brothel in a Hilton Hotel in Chongqing.

Mr. Zheng was a broker for Publicis Groupe in Chongqing, so a paper trail in a government investigation led to the pair of prominent agency executives. In early September, government investigators detained Messrs. Hui and Ye for extensive questioning about their involvement with Mr. Zheng.

"Due to the ongoing investigation of the two Vivaki Exchange executives, their contracts are suspended and they are on indefinite leave pending the outcome of the judicial process," said Yifei Li, the company's Beijing-based country chair, Greater China in a written statement given to Advertising Age today.

"Since [our] company is not involved, we have no access to substantive information about the investigation and hence we are not in a position to comment on the situation," said Ms. Li, who has been serving as interim CEO since September. She confirmed the company "is currently in search of a new leader who will help expand the scope and capabilities of Vivaki Exchange and lead the Vivaki Exchange operation."

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