Roberts takes over at Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide

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LONDON -- The Board of Cordiant has appointed a relatively-unknown former New Zealand brewing executive to succeed Ed Wax as chief executive officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, leapfrogging insiders such as Jennifer Laing and Alan Bishop, who were being groomed to take over when Mr. Wax retired. Mr. Wax, 60, is to relinquish his chief executive position but will remain chairman until the end of 1997. Starting in January 1998, he will play a "continuing role" at the agency as chairman emeritus, maintaining contact with clients and providing strategic counsel. No decision has been made as to who will succeed Mr. Wax as chairman in 1998.

Kevin Roberts, 47, becomes chief executive officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide with overall responsibility for the advertising network's global operations. As a result, Mr. Roberts is to replace Mr. Wax on the Board of Cordiant as an executive director. These changes are effective from May 21, 1997. "Kevin's diverse career has exposed him to the key disciplines essential to our business: marketing and the brand management for major multinationals, a hands-on experience of what good advertising can deliver and, above all, an entrepreneurial and energetic attitude to management at the coal face," says Mr. Seelert.

Roberts was born in England and has worked for Mary Quant cosmetics and Gillette in the U.K. with new product development responsibilities in overseas markets. In 1975, he joined Procter & Gamble with responsibility for the Middle East and Africa. In 1982 he became president/CEO of Pepsi-Cola, Middle East. Five years later he was then promoted to president/CEO of Pepsi-Cola Canada.

At the beginning of 1989, Mr. Roberts was named chief opertating officer of leading New Zealand brewery group Lion Nathan Ltd. During his tenure, Mr. Roberts "led a team that took Lion Nathan from a New Zealand based conglomerate to the leading beverage company in Australasia," according to a Cordiant statement.

In November 1996, Mr. Roberts resigned during a time of turmoil at the company, giving the reason that he wanted a quieter life, telling reporters he wanted: "to do other stuff, before I get old and tired." In December 1996 Lion Nathan reported a 25% drop in earnings for the year and the market share for its beer slipped to an all-time low. The brewer churned through nearly a dozen senior executives during a two year period.

Currently, he is proprietor of Gaults restaurant in Auckland, voted the best restaurant in New Zealand.

In February, Ms. Laing, former chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, London, took over the New York-based CEO position from Mr. Bishop, who replaced Ms. Laing in London.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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