Mr. Holt will retain the post of chairman and add founder to his title, but give up the CEO position and serve mainly in a consulting capacity, said executives familiar with the talks between Mr. Holt and Interpublic Group of Cos.
Interpublic bought Western International Media from Mr. Holt in 1994; last year, it merged Western with Initiative Media.
It's unclear who will get the CEO title. Some insiders said it will be won by Michael Lotito, Western's chief operating officer. Others said Western will go outside to locate a CEO.
Messrs. Holt and Lotito couldn't be reached, nor could Larry Lamattina, Western's global chairman.
Word of Mr. Holt's decision comes as Western is searching for a corporate media director, to be based in New York. Most of Western's top U.S. buying executives -- including Tim Spengler, senior VP-general manager for national TV buying -- are based at the shop's West Hollywood, Calif., headquarters.
"Western has to be careful that it doesn't head into a situation like Carat, and try to recruit someone older with heavy network experience, which offends Spengler and makes him want to leave," said one media executive familiar with the search.
The executive was referring to Carat USA's search for a "name" media player to bring in above Andy Donchin, senior VP-director of national broadcast (AA, Oct. 25). Marc Goldstein, exec VP-managing director of GM Mediaworks, New York, had been in serious talks for the post, but last week Mr. Goldstein informed his staff he was staying at GM Mediaworks, an Interpublic unit that does buying for General Motors Corp.
Rino Scanzoni, exec VP-director of national broadcast at MacManus Group's MediaVest, New York, is one person most executives mention for the open corporate media slot at Western. He disclosed he's leaving MediaVest at yearend.
However, with the just-announced merger of MediaVest parent MacManus Group with Leo Group, MacManus insiders said Mr. Scanzoni is re-evaluating his plans to leave. Mr. Scanzoni declined comment.
It's been a tough year for Western. U.S. President Michael Kassan left in a much-publicized dispute, and a number of insiders said the cultures of Western