IPG’s Media Chief Takes Leave

NEW YORK Mark Rosenthal, CEO of Interpublic Group’s media operations, has taken a medical leave of absence as he undergoes treatment for colon cancer, the company has confirmed.

IPG chairman Michael Roth issued a memo last week informing employees of Rosenthal’s situation. Terri Santisi, chief financial officer of IPG’s media group, will oversee operations in Rosenthal’s absence.

In his memo to staffers, Roth confirmed the diagnosis and said, “thankfully it was found at an early stage. His progress been great and the prognosis is excellent.” The memo went on to note that Rosenthal is undertaking “optional drug treatments that have been taxing and leave him quite fatigued,” so it “makes sense” for him to take a leave at this time. The memo stated that Rosenthal would return to the job at the end of the summer.

Rosenthal joined IPG about a year ago to lead the recently formed umbrella group that includes Initiative, Universal McCann and Magna Global.

Rosenthal’s appointment followed a series of client losses that culminated in the departure of GM’s $3.2 billion buying business to competitor Starcom MediaVest Group in May 2005.

Sources have said of late that Roth was not happy with Rosenthal and that he might be on the way out. An Interpublic representative insisted, however, that Rosenthal would return to the job after the completion of his treatment.

Since his arrival at the company, Rosenthal had made a number of key hires including Santisi and Nick Brien, who was lured away from Publicis Groupe’s Arc Worldwide to become CEO of Universal McCann, replacing Robin Kent. He also brought in Richard Beaven to run Initiative North America.