Who is Havas’ CEO, Philippe Wahl?

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A former economist, statesman and banker, Wahl, 49, brings experience in finance and general management-but none in advertising. He was an executive at French bank Paribas when, in Feb. `99, that company merged with another French bank, Societe General. Later that year, he moved to savings bank Caisse Nationale des Caisses d'Epargne as director-general. In July `03, he resigned. As head of a consultancy called Solfi, Mr. Wahl's clients have reportedly included AXA, the French post office and HSBC. Outside of work, he is a director of The Comite Francais.

So how did he get the job?

On July 14, his new boss, Vincent Bollore, told Le Monde Havas, because it has many advertising talents in-house, can afford to appoint a pure manager. Technically, Mr. Wahl is a managing director, like the other Euro RSCG Worldwide executives (Mercedes Erra, Stephane Fouks, Remi Babinet and David Jones) who now have that title. But unlike them, he has what one executive calls "signing powers." This executive said "He's not going to be a client-facing person. ... Bollore's not going to be attending roadshows and speaking to analysts. It'll be Wahl."

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