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Publicis: Handicapping the Insiders Who Might Succeed CEO Levy

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy will step down in 2010 and expects an "insider" to succeed him, according to reports in the French press:
"There are several very good candidates in-house," Publicis CEO Maurice Levy says in an interview, adding "I think the board of supervisors will not have to look elsewhere."
So who will succeed him? The potential insiders on Publicis' management board are:
  • Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi
  • David Kenny, director of VivaKi,
  • Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media
  • Jean-Yves Naori, evp operations Publicis Groupe
On paper, all of them are qualified to run Publicis in a post-Levy environment. (Roberts even makes more money than Levy in some years.) But note that of the four, only Naori is French. He oversees Publicis' French operations and is a director of its non-U.S. foreign brands. Publicis is a French company -- can anyone imagine a non-French speaker inheriting Levy's office near the Arc de Triomphe?

The selection of the new CEO will be made by Publicis' supervisory board. You can find them listed on page 54 of this document.

Note that out of the 15 supervisors, 11 are French. (There's one Swiss, two Japanese, and Felix Rohatyn, the Austrian-French-American who lived in France from 1934 to 1942 but who now lives in New York.)

What are the chances of 11 Francais picking an American to run their classically French ad empire, which is headquartered in Paris and files its financial disclosures in France also? Impensable!