Mojo execs buy back 30%

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Chicago-based True North Communications is attempting to rejuvenate its Mojo unit in Australia and New Zealand by handing back a 30% equity stake in the network to senior executives and renaming the agency Mojo & Partners. True North International President Harry Reid denied the divestment signals a desire to quit Mojo, but he would not rule out selling off more of Mojo in the future.

The Australasian group will operate as a single profit center, eliminating traditional department groups in favor of a "category management" structure. Creative, media, account service and strategic planning executives will be grouped in six core sectors: food, finance, beverages, telecommunications, automotive and leisure.

True North's move follows a three-year $65 million client exodus from Mojo's flagship Sydney agency, which now bills only $60 million. The agency has also lost founders Alan "Mo" Morris, Allan "Jo" Johnston, former chairman Don Morris and virtually all senior staff of the heyday 1980s. The slide began when Mojo merged with Chiat/Day in 1989 and continued when True North's Foote, Cone & Belding bought the agency in 1992.

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