Brain quits WS as Byrne takes sole control

The double act of Colin Byrne and David Brain as joint CEOs of Weber Shandwick came to an end this week with news that Brain is to leave for a European role at rival PR giant Edelman.

The pair have been running the UK’s largest PR consultancy for over two years, following the merger into WS of BSMG Worldwide, of which Brain was previously CEO.

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 ten countries, with a fee income of close to £30m.

Byrne, who was CEO of the WS public affairs practice before the merger, now takes sole control of the firm. Although WS is prevented by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act from revealing financial data, it is believed the UK and Ireland business brings in fee income of roughly £30m, down from close to £40m when BSMG was folded in.

Byrne, who reports to WS global chief exec Harris Diamond, has handed consumer practice head Sally Ward an additional role as his deputy.

The Byrne/Brain pairing was positioned in 2001 as a balance between former Labour Party press aide Byrne’s lobbying background and the consumer experience of Brain, who worked in Burson-Marsteller’s marcoms unit before BSMG.

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