Mark Tims to Head Money-Losing International Unit

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CINCINNATI ( -- Information Resources Inc. today named a new management team for its money-losing international operations, to be headed by Mark Tims, who will become group president of international operations in May.

Mr. Tims replaces Tim Bowles, who led the international business since 1995 and indicated last year his desire to retire, said IRI Chairman-CEO Joseph Durrett in a statement. Mr. Bowles will stay on as a member of the research company's International Operations Board.

IRI also announced Claude Charbit, managing director of IRI's French subsidiary, will retire next month, to be succeeded by Philippe Chouvou, currently IRI's operations director for Europe. Dave Barrett, currently commercial director, will succeed Mr. Tims as managing director in the U.K.

Unprofitable business
Mr. Tims has been with IRI

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since 1986, including most recently as managing director of IRI's U.K. operation, which IRI said has been profitable. But IRI's overall international business has been a money loser in recent years, particularly the German operation. Through the first nine months of 2002, IRI's international operations posted an operating loss of $8 million vs. a $17.8 million operating profit for the U.S. operation.

IRI has struggled of late, announcing a workforce reduction of 5%, or about 200 employees globally, last month even before the announcement that it would lose its biggest account, Procter & Gamble Co.'s U.S. scanner data business.

$1 billion lawsuit
The European business has been a point of contention between IRI and its competitor, VNU's ACNielsen Corp., in a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit IRI filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1996. The suit claims ACNielsen bundled U.S. and European contracts in an effort to stymie growth of IRI's European operations.

ACNielsen has denied the charge and won partial summary judgment in 2000 in which the court ruled IRI's European subsidiaries lacked standing to file suit in the U.S. IRI last year was denied the chance to appeal that judgment until remaining issues in the lawsuit, which could come to trial later this year, are decided.

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