Senior executives at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos who received "phantom" shares of stock must remain on board for the next five years to fully realize additional rewards of bonuses and incentives set up for them if financial goals are realized, according to sources.
Those executives, whom Connors calls the Vermont Group, are: president Fred Bertino; general manager Deb Martin; creative director Mike Sheehan; treasurers Joe Norberg and John Mills; executive vice president Brian Carty; Don White, who runs Hill, Holliday Direct; executive vice presidents and group account managers Terry Carleton and Stever Aubrey; and database marketer Kim Mayyasi.
Connors' oldest son, John Connors III, 30, also a member of the Vermont Group, has stock options that differ from those offered to the group's other members.
"The next leader of Hill, Holliday is on that list," Connors said.
Shares bought by Connors from co-founder Jay Hill when he retired two years ago were dispersed to the Vermont Group and will be converted to IPG shares when the deal closes.
The Vermont Group has been meeting regularly for the past three years. Its first meeting, at a resort in Bernard, Vt., was held to discuss the future of the agency.
Ed Eskandarian, chairman of Arnold Communications, observed that five years gives Connors plenty of time to find a successor. "If it's not someone from within, Interpublic has 27,000 other employees" from which to choose, Eskandarian said.