IPG’s Roth Replaces Bell as CEO

NEW YORK Ending months of speculation, Interpublic Group on Wednesday said Michael Roth, a board member who ascended to operating chairman in July, has become chief executive officer, succeeding David Bell, who has held the top job since February 2003.

Bell, 61, will shift to co-chairman, sharing that title with Roth, IPG said. (The president’s title, which Bell also held, will not be used.) Bell will remain with the company until at least March 2006, according to sources.

“During the course of his career, Michael has consistently proven he is a leader who is extremely capable when it comes to taking tough and decisive action on strategic and operational issues. We are confident Michael is ready to lead Interpublic through successful completion of the second half of the turnaround plan and beyond,” said IPG presiding director Frank Borelli, in a statement.

“David’s new title will provide a platform from which to work on strengthening key client relationships and continue building on our recent success in organic growth. These moves are a natural progression of the partnership we’ve been developing since my arrival,” Roth said.

Since becoming chairman, Roth, 59, former CEO of The MONY Group, has been actively involved in operations and recruiting. In November, he started to meet industry analysts and last month he began to introduce himself to key clients. His ascendancy to the top job was expected [Adweek Online, Dec. 20].

The $5.8 billion IPG is in the midst of a turnaround effort that is expected to stretch into 2006. Its problems include a heavy debt load, a $181.3 million accounting imbalance that’s still under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and profit margins and organic growth that trail rivals such as Omnicom Group and WPP Group.