Kwittken to exit top post at Magnet, pursue client work

NEW YORK: Aaron Kwittken, the youngest CEO of a major PR firm, announced his intention to leave his post at Euro RSCG Magnet last week, citing his desire to return to client work.

NEW YORK: Aaron Kwittken, the youngest CEO of a major PR firm, announced his intention to leave his post at Euro RSCG Magnet last week, citing his desire to return to client work.

Kwittken said he gave Magnet notification in early October that he intended to leave by the end of the year in order to "pursue a new venture of my own."

"The primary reason was for lifestyle reasons, which is a nice way and another way of saying I really want to get back to doing client work full-time again," he said. "That's where my passion is; that's where my interests are."

In his next venture, Kwittken said, he would like to "practice [client work] 100% of the time if I possibly can."

Kwittken would not disclose what his specific plans were for a new job, although his stated preferences would seem to preclude the possibility of another CEO-type role at an established national agency.

"I certainly would be staying within the industry, and I will be following my own kind of entrepreneurial path," he said.

Magnet is Havas' most prominent PR firm. It was formed in January 2004 through the merger of Magnet Communications and Euro RSCG Middleberg. Kwittken was promoted to CEO from his former post as president and COO in October 2004.

Don Middleberg, former head of Middleberg, has been more actively consulting with Magnet clients during Kwittken's tenure. There has been speculation of a possible joint venture between the two in the future.

Kwittken was widely viewed as the great young hope for Magnet and the PR presence of Havas, which is still seen as a possible takeover target because it is significantly smaller than the other holding companies. "My feeling is that Havas has always been and will continue to be very committed to PR as an offering," Kwittken said.

Peggy Nahmany, Havas' external relations head, declined to comment on Kwittken's departure, citing company policy.

Kwittken will remain with Magnet throughout the "transition" period, as the firms looks for a new CEO. He said he is helping to advise Euro RSCG Worldwide on that task.

"I've given them suggestions, from a recruitment standpoint," he said, "but I don't really have any thoughts on who that person might be."

He said the company wants to find a successor "as soon as they possibly can."

Patrick Resk, Magnet's current EVP, CFO, and Kwittken's chief deputy, said in an e-mail, "We have an executive search under way," adding that the executive committee "will continue to provide guidance" on operations during the process.

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