Satterthwaite, the group's managing director, brings a broad range of experience to the job, having held senior roles in above- and below-the-line operations and PR.
Howell's long-anticipated resignation comes as HHCL & Partners, the agency he helped found and which is now a Chime subsidiary, is poised to join WPP's Red Cell network under a cross-shareholding arrangement.
Satterthwaite started his career at Heinz, but he built his reputation as a powerful advocate of integrated communications. He was a key figure in the success of IMP, the D'Arcy-owned sales promotion specialist, becoming its managing director at 29 and the chief executive at 35. In 1993 he made news when he led a defection of senior IMP staff to HHCL to establish a below-the-line specialism.
After a spell as the HHCL chief executive, Satterthwaite moved with Chime to become the chief executive of Bell Pottinger, a Chime subsidiary and the largest PR company in the UK.
Howell, 45, whose departure was predicted on the front page of Campaign last month, will leave the board of Chime in September. However, he will remain as a shareholder and a part-time consultant.
A former IPA president, he said he had grown frustrated with corporate life and missed working directly with agency clients. "I finally made up my mind to go about three weeks ago, but it had been brewing for a year," he said. "I missed being an operational adman and began finding that the tyranny of the half-yearly figures was getting to me. People kept asking me why I wouldn't go back to HHCL but that's just not me."
Howell insisted he had no plans for an agency start-up but was talking to potential partners and backers, including Chime, about a venture in brand and communications consultancy. He is rumoured to be linking with Robin Price, one of the five original HHCL founders.
- Newsmaker, p13.