Maurice Lévy to Remain Chairman-CEO of Publicis Until 2017

Jean-Yves Naouri, Once Seen as Likely Successor, is Out of Running

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Maurice Levy
Maurice Levy

The succession problem at Publicis Groupe lingers on. The company said today Maurice Lévy will continue as Publicis Groupe chairman-CEO until May or June 2017 – a few months after his 75th birthday. Publicis Chief Operating Officer Jean-Yves Naouri is no longer in the running for the post.

In a shakeup, the French communications giant has brought more talent to the senior management board, but continues to delay finding a successor for Mr. Lévy, who has been running Publicis since 1987.

Mr. Naouri was once seen as the frontrunner for Mr. Lévy's successor, but seems to have been a casualty of the failure of Publicis Groupe's proposed merger with Omnicom. It wasn't clear at press time whether Mr. Naouri will remain with the company.

New additions to the table are Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Worldwide; Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group; Steve King, CEO of ZenithOptimedia; and Rishad Tobaccowala (newly promoted from Chief Strategy Officerof VivaKi to chief strategist of Publicis Groupe).

Arthur Sadoun
Arthur Sadoun

This expanded group forms the Directoire. The core Directoire is made up of Mr. Lévy, Kevin Roberts (promoted from CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide to executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi/Fallon); Jean-Michel Etienne (Chief Financial Officer and exec VP); and Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner (senior VP-compliance and legal).

Mr. Roberts also becomes head coach of Publicis Groupe, with the task of motivating the leadership team, but he will step down at the same time as Mr. Lévy in 2017. Robert Senior, CEO of SSF Group EMEA, becomes CEO of the entire Saatchi & Saatchi/Fallon network, making him a likely successor to Mr. Roberts. Chris Foster, chairman and regional CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Asia Pacific, becomes chief operating officer of the Saatchi & Saatchi/Fallon network.

A new appointment -- former TV executive Axel Duroux -- is to join Publicis Groupe on Oct. 1 to take over strategy, development, performance and optimization of the group's presence in emerging and fast-growing markets.

Mr. Duroux will serve on the P12, the group's strategic consulting and operational coordination committee, alongside six other new members: Tom Adamski (Rosetta CEO); Mr. Senior; Luke Taylor (LBi CEO); Mark Tutssel (chief creative officer at Leo Burnett); and Jean-François Valent (CEO of Prodigious, Mundocom and MarketForward).

Razorfish and Rosetta will come together under the new Razorfish Global brand, with Mr. Adamski as CEO of the new entity.

A presentation will be made to investors before the end of October to clarify the group's 2018 growth and margin targets.

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