"Asia is thriving and holds much opportunity for Western multinationals. At the current rate, Asia will overtake Europe in ad spend terms in the next three years," said Mr. Verklin, who will run the region from New York until a replacement has been named, if at all.
Richard Walters, Aegis Group's global head of communication in London, said, "David [Liu] will be hard act to follow, but our intention is to get someone else at some point."
In the meantime, the group's operations within Asia will be managed by Shanghai-based Thomas Wong, CEO, China and regional director, North Asia; Koh Tai Hong, Carat's Singapore-based regional director, Southeast Asia; and Richard Halmarick in Sydney, CEO for Australia and New Zealand. All three executives will report to Mr. Verklin.
"I also picked now to leave because I just turned 50, and if I want to do something else with my life, this is the time," said Mr. Liu. However, his departure coincides with several other recent high-profile defections. Singapore-based Kim Walker, now president-CEO, Asia for M&C Saatchi, quit as Aegis' executive director-Asia/Pacific last year, while Andy Lock, Carat's CEO-Thailand in Bangkok, recently announced he was leaving.
In the U.S., Charlie Rutman, No. 2 to Mr. Verklin, left Aegis to become CEO of MPG. Bruce Dennler, a longtime exec VP and acting No. 2 after Mr. Rutman's departure, recently left to become president of Palisades Media in California.
A 26-year-veteran of the ad industry, Mr. Liu joined Carat seven years ago as CEO-Asia/Pacific and has helped build the network into the fifth-largest media agency in the region, according to RECMA. Carat's clients in Asia include Adidas, BMW, Pernod Ricard, Ferrero and Pizza Hut.