By Julien Rath
Francois Durand/Getty Images
Outgoing Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy.
Outgoing CEO of Publicis Maurice Levy explained on his last-ever earnings call that he would continue to be a part of the company after Arthur Sadoun succeeds him in June.
The current CEO of Publicis Communications, Artur Sadoun, is set to replace Maurice Levy on June 1. Levy will then become president of the supervisory board, which represents the interests of the founding family.
At the beginning of his last earnings call for the French ad agency Levy said: “If shareholders agree to it, I will be the next chairman of the supervisory board and will actively seek to strengthen our client portfolio and support Arthur, the management board, and all the teams in their development hereforth — each time it will be appropriate for me to be involved, each time they ask me to do something, including finding their shoes.”
Sadoun is taking over the CEO position at the age of 45, the same age Levy was when he became CEO. Levy said the leadership team was very much involved in the activities of the agency. “It’s not a one-man show, it is a team show. The team is just changing the leader with someone who is more energetic,” he said. “I am very happy and confident in the quality and ability of this team to lead the group.”
In an interview given to Campaign, after the January announcement of the new CEO, Levy said: “I’ll be no back seat driver. I even refused a proposal that would have allowed me to become one. The organisation has to be in the hands of one person.”
During his time at Publicis, Levy transformed the group into one of the leading advertising agencies in the world. His last big move was the introduction of the “Power of One” strategy to get rid of siloes in the group and the acquisition of Sapient.Nitro, which he sees as the future of the group.
“Even if I’m not totally retiring, not even semi retiring that’s the reason why I feel extremely good about the future,” Levy said about the moves he has made in recent years.
The succession of the CEO position was a source of speculation in the industry for a number of years. Sadoun will be the third CEO in over 90 years. Sadoun was placed at the head of Publicis Communications, which leads all the creative agencies — including Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, and BBH — in the group, after the failed Publicis-Omnicom merger in 2014.
Publicis reported a 1.2% drop in organic growth for the first three months of 2017, resulting from client losses in the US. All other regions, especially Europe which saw a 5.5% rise in growth, were positive and the company was confident it would return to positive growth in the second half of 2017.
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