Higgins takes overall charge of the agency’s offices in Paris, Munich, Milan and Madrid, plus affiliate bureaus, and will also ‘lead strategic acquisitions’, according to a company statement.
Higgins fills a position that has lain vacant since James Maxwell left two years ago (PRWeek, 5 October 2001).
US-based senior partner for international operations Jerry Olszewski has had interim control of Ketchum across Europe since the departure of Maxwell, who died this year.
Deputy CEO David Gallagher has been promoted to lead the London office, but said he had ‘no immediate plans’ to appoint a deputy himself.
The announcement of the promotions coincides with news that GlaxoSmithKline has handed Ketchum the PR contract to promote its entire respiratory business in the UK.
Ketchum will work across a portfolio that includes Seretide, the flagship product in the drugs giant’s respiratory portfolio, and also Serevent.
The account was formerly held for six years by Countrywide Porter Novelli. Ketchum is understood to have beaten Red Door Communications, Clew Communications and Packer Forbes in a pitch.
The agency, whose European healthcare MD Mark Cater led the pitch, reports to senior external affairs manager Emma Ongley, who joined from Grayling Group in August, and team leader Kate Hewer.
Seretide won approval in the US, where it is called Advair, for use in treating chronic lung problems, just a fortnight ago.
Research unveiled by business information firm Datamonitor in October suggested that the asthma/COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) market will increase by 35 per cent to reach a value of more than £10bn by 2011.