While Adage reported that Maurice Levy would remain chairman-CEO of Publicis Groupe until 2017, and the Wall Street Journal claimed that the group extended Levy’s tenure until early that same year, an official press statement by Publicis on September 16 leads to no conclusion of the sort.
The statement, announcing “strategic directions for 2018”, followed the group’s supervisory board meeting on September 15, stating the following decisions:
Publicis group will expand its digital leadership team and continue to invest in the digital sphere through either “organic growth or acquisitions”, it said in the statement, particularly in the technology field. A presentation will be made by the group to investors before the end of October.
A new management board (Directoire) will be app0inted to carry out Publicis’ strategic decisions. As such, the terms of office for the current management board — for which members include: Maurice Lévy, Chairman, Jean-Yves Naouri, Jean-Michel Etienne and Kevin Roberts — are to end with immediate effect. While the new Directoire will be appointed for a term of four years, “with regret, Jean-Yves Naouri will not be part of the new management structure,” the group states. The Directoire+, an extension of the current Directoire, will comprise: Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, Steve King, CEO of ZenithOptimedia, Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Worldwide and Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist of Publicis Groupe.
The terms of office of Maurice Lévy and Kevin Roberts will end at the General Assembly meeting convened to approve the consolidated financial statements for the 2016 fiscal year. Axel Duroux is to join Publicis Groupe on October 1 to take over strategy, development, performance and optimization of the Groupe’s presence in emerging and fast-growing markets.
The Razorfish and Rosetta agencies, along with certain Nurun assets, will come together under the new Razorfish global brand, under the responsibility of Tom Adamski, CEO of the new entity. Luke Taylor, CEO of DigitasLBi, and Tom Adamski, CEO of Razorfish Global, will report directly to the the group chairman and CEO.
VivaKi Exchange, under CEO Simon Pardon, will deploy trading, negotiation and execution operations worldwide, and VivaKi Data, under CEO Stephan Beringer, will be responsible for the development of AOD (audience-on-demand) and of technology platforms, particularly in the field of data.
What’s in it for investors?
The supervisory board also approved several proposals, which included “further consideration” into future investments, a confirmation of the targets for growth (100 basis points above market average) and margin (minimum of +200 basis points) for 2018, a share buyback program under the terms of authorizations granted by the Annual General Meeting of shareholders; and a dividend policy comprising a distribution rate of 35 percent in 2015 (2014 financial results) and a gradual increase over the coming years to bring the groupe into alignment with the industry average (around 42 percent) by 2018.