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02 august 2005 | 15:12
By Lisa Sanders

NEW YORK ( - Following a series of management changes in its senior-most ranks in the past two months, French advertising holding company Havas today announced that James Heekin, chairman and CEO of Havas' largest agency network, Euro RSCG Worldwide, has resigned.

In a statement issued this morning from Havas headquarters in Suresnes, France, Havas' CEO Philippe Wahl said that a new international team of management will replace Mr. Heekin.

'Pursue other opportunities'
The Havas statement said that Mr. Heekin "will pursue other opportunities in the industry."

Mercedes Erra, chairman of Euro RSCG France and president of BETC Euro RSCG, and Stéphane Fouks, CEO of Euro RSCG France and Euro RSCG C&C, are now executive co-chairmen of Euro RSCG Worldwide. David Jones, head of Euro RSCG Worldwide, New York, becomes chief executive officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide and Rémi Babinet, president and creative director of BETC Euro RSCG is named chief creative officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide. The appointments are effective immediately.

The departure of Mr. Heekin, 55, is not unexpected. The former CEO of Interpublic's McCann Erickson WorldGroup, he joined Euro RSCG Worldwide in September, 2003 as president and chief operating officer. He was promoted to the CEO role in January 2004, replacing Robert Schmetterer, who retired.

Reorganization of Havas
Following the boardroom battle that led to the ouster of Havas chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac by Vincent Bollore, there has been much industry speculation that Mr. Heekin would leave. Industry rumors have Mr. Heekin in talks with WPP Group's Grey Global Group, but none of the parties have confirmed that.

The ascendancy of Ms. Erra, Mr. Fouks, Mr. Jones and Mr. Babinet to the top posts at Euro has also been widely speculated about in the European press.

Each member of Euro's new leadership team -- Ms. Erra, Mr. Fouks, Mr. Jones and Mr. Babinet -- have tight connections to key Euro clients or are veterans of the loosely knit Havas network. The latter issue is important because the holding company's top executives -- Mr. Bollore, chairman, and Philippe Wahl, CEO -- are new to the company. Created through a series of acquisitions and mergers over the past two decades, Havas has a complex history.

Mercedes Erra
Ms. Erra of BETC Euro RSCG is well known in advertising circles in France, where her Paris agency is regarded as a great creative shop. She works closely with Danone, Evian, Cadbury Schweppes, L'Oréal, Orange, Sara Lee (Playtex-Wonderbra) and Canal Group. Rйmi Babinet, president and creative director of BETC Euro RSCG, has worked at that agency since its launch in 1994, and contributed to its reputation as a creative powerhouse.

Stéphane Fouks
Mr. Fouks has been a Euro RSCG Worldwide executive since 1988 when he co-founded corporate communications consultancy RSCG Public. He served as the CEO of the company until 1995, when it merged with Euro RSCG Consultants and became Euro RSCG Institutional, where he remained CEO. In 1999 Euro RSCG Institutional and Hiex Reus Patner merged to form Euro RSCG Corporate. In 2001 he initiated a cross-working relationship between Euro RSCG Corporate and Euro RSCG Omnium, which then became Euro RSCG C&O. Mr. Fouks has also been a consultant to numerous French government officials.

David Jones
David Jones, a British citizen, became CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide's flagship New York office in September 2004. He was a key player in Euro's win of the global Jaguar ad account and the North American Charles Schwab account, two pieces of business that bolstered the agency after the departure of Intel, one of its largest clients. Mr. Jones has held top positions for Euro RSCG in London (as executive vice president, managing director of global business, where he led all of Euro RSCG's 42 multinational clients,) and as global brand director for Reckitt Benckiser. In 1999, at the age of 32, he was named CEO of Euro RSCG Partnership Australia.

Remi Babinet
Remi Babinet is president and chief creative officer of BETC Euro RSCG. The agency was co-founded by Mr. Babinet and Eric Tong Cuong in 1994. He began his career in Paris in 1986 as a creative copy-writer at BDDP -- the agency co-founded by Jean Marie Dru, the TBWA Worldwide president-CEO who was unsucessfully courted by Havas' chairman Vincent Bollore in June.
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