The pair have been running the UK's largest PR consultancy for over two years, following the merger into WS of BSMG Worldwide, which Brain previously ran.
Brain's new role as president and CEO of Edelman's European region is the recreated role previously held by Rosanna D'Antona. She was made redundant by the then international president Alison Canning, who left the firm two months ago (PRWeek, 18 July). Brain will report to international CEO Richard Edelman in New York, and will manage 350 people across 10 countries with fee income of close to £30m.
Byrne, who was CEO of the WS public affairs practice before the 2001 merger will now assume sole control of the firm. Although WS is prevented by the Sarbanes-Oxley act from revealing financial data about itself, it is believed this remit covers over 350 people, bringing in fee income of £27m.
Although he will now be sole CEO, reporting to WS global CEO Harris Diamond, he has promoted consumer practice head Sally Ward to be his deputy, though she will maintain control of the consumer practice.
The pairing of Byrne and Brain was positioned at the time of the 2001 merger as a balance between Byrne's public affairs background and Brain's consumer marketing experience. Byrne is a former chief press officer for the Labour party while Brain spent two years in the marcoms practice at Burson-Marsteller before working at BSMG.
Brain, who will be based with Edelman's UK arm on London's Haymarket, will work closely with Ireland MD Hugh Gillanders, who has acted as Europe-wide CEO on an interim basis since the departure of Canning. She quit following plans to shrink her global non-US role into a Europe-only one.
Gillanders will also retain his wider role as chief operating officer for Europe - with specific responsibility for the smaller markets in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Sweden - and will report to Brain.
Brain said, 'There are only four truly global agencies – WS, Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Edelman. The plan is to combine strong organic growth with targeted acquisitions.'