Publicis share price jumps as management shake up after omnicom merger failure sees Maurice Levy stay on until 2017

Lynsey Barber
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Publicis boss Maurice Levy will extend leadership term (Source: getty)

Publicis Group's share price jumped 1.4 per cent in early trading after chief executive and chairman Maurice Levy announced his intention to stay in charge of the world’s third largest advertising group until 2017.

The 72 year-old’s term at the helm, which began in 1987, was expected to come to an end in 2015, however Levy will now remain in place for a further fiscal year, stepping down after the France-based advertising group’s shareholder meeting in 2017.

The move is part of a management shake up which includes the departure of chief operating officer Jean-Yves Naouri, who was once seen as a successor to Levy.

Along with Levy, finance chief Jean-Michel Etienne and Kevin Roberts, chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, will remain on the board and will be joined by head of legal Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner.

Roberts will become executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi/Fallon and will also take on the role of head coach at the group from 2015. Axel Duroux will join the group to lead strategy replacing Naouri.

A new senior leadership team has also been named, as the group looks to move on from the failed merger with Omnicom earlier this year and find a successor to Levy.

Additions to the group’s leadership team include Starcom Mediavest Group chief Laura Desmond, ZenithOptimedia boss Steve King, Publicis Worldwide chief Arthur Sadoun and Rishad Tobaccowala, the DigitasLBI and Razorfish chairman who becomes Publicis Groupe’s chief strategist.

Levy had previously said he wouldn’t stay at Publicis beyond the end of 2015. "I don't think extending my CEO mandate is the right solution, but I am ready to lend my support in any possible form that will facilitate the transition," he said earlier this year.

The $35bn mega-merger with Omnicom broke down over disagreements between the two groups over leadership. The deal would have seen Levy become chief executive of the combined business and then chairman to make way for Omnicom chief John Wren.

Publicis, which owns ad shops Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and BBH, said it would focus on digital and look for growth from acquisitions as well as organically “notably in the realm of technology”.

The ad group reaffirmed its 2018 targets and approved plans for a share buyback to increase its dividend to 35 per cent in 2015 and 42 per cent by 2018.