Was Chairman-CEO of Advanced Marketing Services Division

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NEW YORK ( -- Larry Weber, chairman-CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Advanced Marketing Services division, is stepping down from his post, effective immediately.

The moves follows Interpublic's decision to break up the unit, which had housed most of the company's public relations firms, research division NFO WorldGroup and sports marketing outfit Jack Morton Worldwide.

His decision
Mr. Weber, 48, will become a consultant

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to Interpublic and will be based full time at the Cambridge, Mass., office of Interpublic's public relations unit Weber Shandwick, which Mr. Weber helped create for the company. Mr. Weber told today that the decision to leave was his.

"I had been traveling to New York three days a week for six years and after a long talk with [Chairman-CEO] David Bell, I said I can't keep doing this."

Mr. Weber's future had been in doubt after Mr. Bell, who took the top job at Interpublic in February, decided to dismantle Advanced Marketing Services. Mr. Bell had previously taken a role within the unit in October 2002 while vice chairman at Interpublic.

Creating new entity
Interpublic is in the midst of creating a new entity to house its PR assets. The unit is provisionally called the "constituent management group" and is headed by Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond. The unit contains Weber Shandwick, Golin/Harris International, MWW Group, a variety of small boutique PR firms, and two identity specialist firms, FutureBrand and Springpoint.

In March, Interpublic moved Jack Morton Worldwide into Interpublic's Sports & Entertainment Group. It is also expected to complete the sale of NFO WorldGroup to TNS, formerly known as Taylor Nelson Sofres, this week.

The entrepreneurial Mr. Weber began his association with Interpublic in 1996 when he sold two companies, Weber Group, a technology-oriented PR agency, and online marketing firm Thunder House, to the holding company, which in turn asked him to create the world's largest PR firm. As Interpublic's marketing services acquisitions increased through the late '90s, Mr. Weber was appointed to run a unit named Allied Communications, the precursor to Advanced Marketing Services. At its highest point, the unit represented $1.3 billion in billings.

Mr. Weber will retain the title of founder for the PR company he helped create and he also remains on the board of Modem Media, an interactive firm partly owned by Interpublic.

Non-compete clause
Mr. Weber is expected to remain something of a player in the PR field, though a non-compete clause is likely to prevent him from founding any new companies in the near future.

Commenting on the future of the PR profession, Mr. Weber said, "I think we're going to see a shift to digital- and data-based public relations. The industry has become data driven, not creatively driven."

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