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Michael Kassan's monthlong leave of absence as North American president of Western Initiative Media Worldwide is set to end after this week. But there are questions about whether he will return to his post.

Larry Lamattina, global chairman-CEO of the Interpublic Group of Cos. unit, said Mr. Kassan's return after the leave is "currently the plan. But, you know, it's a leave of absence and I can't go any further than that."

Asked whether there are discussions with Mr. Kassan about leaving the company, Mr. Lamattina said, "I'm not going to comment on that."

Said Mr. Kassan, "Neither I nor any of my representatives have been or currently are talking to IPG about my leaving." He declined comment on any other aspects of his leave, which he earlier described as an extended vacation.

Mr. Lamattina also confirmed reports that Interpublic is conducting a financial audit of Western (AA, July 26). But he said it is "nothing more than the normal audit that we institute on an ongoing basis for all Interpublic companies."

Another inside executive said he expects the audit's initial findings will come within the next two weeks.

Mr. Lamattina said the reason Mr. Kassan is on leave is that "there are some issues we are discussing . . . internal issues between us and him. We're really not prepared to comment any more than that."

On July 30, Western issued a statement that read: "Mr. Kassan's leave has no connection whatsoever to his or the company's activities on behalf of its clients" (AA, Aug 2).


Though Mr. Kassan's monthlong leave will expire this week, Mr. Lamattina confirmed that Mr. Kassan's two office assistants went on leave July 30. "Michael's not there so there's not much to do," he said.

Calls to Mr. Kassan's Los Angeles office were forwarded in late July to the Los Angeles office of Michael Lotito, Western's chief operating officer. Last week that changed, and Mr. Kassan's line was forwarded to an assistant to Dennis Holt, Western's U.S. CEO. She answered calls by saying, "Michael Kassan's office."

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