CEO Shaun Holliday Leaves MPG North America

Company's Global CEO Maria Luisa Francoli to Assume New Duties

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NEW YORK ( -- Shaun Holliday, CEO of MPG North America, is out at the Havas-owned media agency a little more than a year after he took on the role. The move means that MPG's global CEO, Maria Luisa Francoli, will have to assume responsibility for North America in addition to her current duties.

Shaun Holliday
Shaun Holliday
Mr. Holliday moved to MPG to serve as CEO of the North America region in January 2009, replacing Charlie Rutman, who became a senior adviser to the agency. As part of his charge, Mr. Holliday oversaw all operating business units of Havas Media in the U.S. and Canada including MPG and digital unit Media Contacts, reporting to Ms. Francoli and Alfonso Rodes, global CEO of Havas Media. Before that, Mr. Holliday was CEO-in-residence at private-equity firm Gryphon Investors, and worked in a number of client-side roles at big marketers Newell Rubbermaid, Pepsi Bottling Group, Frito-Lay and Diageo.

His departure means Ms. Francoli, who has been at MPG since 1993, will have to devote more time to boosting the agency's U.S. operations, which have been lagging compared to the rest of the network.

MPG in a statement said Mr. Holliday has "set his sights on new horizons," and thanked him for his contributions, including helping the agency drive efficiency and profitability. The agency isn't expected to replace him and Ms. Francoli and Mr. Holliday will work closely through late June to ensure an orderly transition.

In his time as North American CEO Mr. Holliday played it very low-key and was rarely quoted in the press. "He spent a lot of time rebuilding and re-engineering things internally instead of being the face [of the agency] in the press," one MPG employee said. "But that's not what we need right now."

In terms of business performance, the shop factored in two of the biggest media pitches held last year: Danone, in which it retained its North American duties, and Reckitt Benckiser, in which it lost its U.S. assignment to Publicis Groupe's Zenithoptimedia.

Its U.S. revenue totaled $77 million in 2009, according to Ad Age DataCenter, down 11% from the year earlier, and it laid off about 10% of U.S. staff last April. The agency has, however, seen some momentum with recent global wins from the likes of Hyundai-Kia and Reckitt.

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Michael Bush contributed to this report.

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