B-M Appoints U.S. CEO, Shuffles Execs

BOSTON WPP Group’s Burson-Marsteller yesterday named a new U.S. chief executive officer, said the public relation firm’s worldwide president and CEO, Tom Nides.

Ken Rietz was promoted to vice chairman and U.S. CEO from his previous position of chief operating officer. In addition to coordinating the U.S. practices, Rietz will focus on Direct Impact, a B-M-owned grassroots marketing firm in Washington, D.C. Rietz has agreed to remain in the job for at least one year. He replaces Chet Burchett, who left B-M one year ago.

Taking Rietz’s place as COO is Carlos Lareau, who will be based in Spain. Previously, Lareau had been the firm’s CEO in Europe. B-M has, in turn, named co-CEOs in Europe: Heidi Sinclair and Per Heggenes, who will be based in Spain and England, respectively.

Also among the promotions was Richard Mintz, who will lead B-M’s global new business development efforts. Previously, Mintz was global practice chair for public affairs; he will continue in that function and remain involved with clients.

“I have moved my stars around and taken them out of their comfort zones,” said Nides of the promotions, which were announced in a company memo on Jan. 18. In the memo, he stated “growth is a top priority for me and all of us.”

“In a difficult market, 2004 was a strong year [for B-M],” said Nides. “I hope to build on that momentum.”