IPG confirms senior reshuffle

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group has confirmed that a management shake-up has seen former True North Communications chief David Bell, 59, ascend to the post of chairman and CEO, while incumbent John Dooner moves to the post of CEO of the troubled ad agency group McCann-Erickson. Dooner had previously headed that unit.

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group has confirmed that a management shake-up has seen former True North Communications chief David Bell, 59, ascend to the post of chairman and CEO, while incumbent John Dooner moves to the post of CEO of the troubled ad agency group McCann-Erickson. Dooner had previously headed that unit.

IPG acquired True North in 2001, and Bell has been vice chairman of IPG ever since. True North's PR holdings included BSMG Worldwide, which was eventually merged into the firm that is now Weber Shandwick. The reshuffle was announced after a much-anticipated IPG board meeting Thursday. "This seems to have worked out best for everyone involved," said Larry Weber, CEO of Advanced Marketing Services, the entity that houses most of IPG?s PR holdings. "I am very pleased, having known David for the last two years. He is someone that truly believes in the power of PR, and was aggressive during his time at True North in allowing Harris [Diamond, WS CEO] to build a strong group in BSMG. He's giving us his full support, and we are very pleased.? IPG?s other PR holdings include Golin/Harris International and The MWW Group. Dooner had come under significant pressure in recent months following embarrassing accounting missteps at McCann, which forced the marketing giant to restate $181 million in profits dating back as far as 1996. In late January, the company said the SEC had upgraded its inquiry into the accounting issue to a formal investigation. The current head of McCann, James Heekin, has been dismissed. Dooner had also been squeezed by a collapsing stock price resulting largely from a grueling advertising and PR recession, coupled with a heavy debt load left over from a boom-time acquisition spree. IPG was also forced to amend its credit agreement earlier this month, which put in place more stringent borrowing terms. Under the agreement, the company is restricted in its ability to pay dividends, incur capital costs, and take on additional debt.

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