NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a long-anticipated move, Interpublic Group of Cos. today said Chairman Michael Roth has added the title of CEO, while David Bell becomes co-chairman.
|David Bell is moving from Interpublic CEO to chairman.|
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In recent months, Mr. Roth has taken a more hands-on role within the company, currently in the middle of a turnaround expected to last until 2006. In a November call with analysts, Mr. Bell said Mr. Roth's "presence will be increasingly felt on strategic, operational and financial issues."
Since then, Interpublic has made a major move at the top of one its struggling networks, naming Steve Blamer as president-CEO at Foote Cone & Belding. Executives familiar with the matter said Mr. Roth was instrumental in making that move.
A senior executive at an Interpublic agency said there were any number of signs that the move was coming. "Roth had been sitting in on a lot of high-level meetings," this executive said. "Memos previously coming from David Bell now are coming from Bell and Michael Roth."
Interpublic stock today closed at $13.32, up five cents on the day. The stock stood at $9.70 Feb. 27, 2003, when Mr. Bell replaced John Dooner as Interpublic's president, CEO and chairman. The stock closed at $13.12 July 13, 2004, when Mr. Roth succeeded Mr. Bell as chairman.
Leading a turnaround
Mr. Bell was named chairman-CEO in February 2003 and was charged with leading the turnaround of a company that had been plagued by the fallout of a late-1990s acquisition spree, accounting problems and an economy in recession.
Mr. Roth, a board member since 2002, was named chairman in June 2004. He had been chairman-CEO of the MONY Group, a financial-services holding company.
FCB, along with Lowe & Partners Worldwide, are among the weak spots within Interpublic. Its media offerings as well have stumbled, with Universal McCann and Initiative Media losing major pieces of business last year. One of Mr. Roth's first tests as CEO will be to complete the reorganization of the media agencies.
Executives familiar with the matter said that reorganization, originally expected to be complete by the end of 2004, will likely entail Initiative and Universal McCann reporting into a single executive.