True North elects Bell as Mason’s successor

True North has chosen David Bell, one of the oldest friends of its chairman, Bruce Mason, to succeed him when he retires at the end of the month.

True North has chosen David Bell, one of the oldest friends of its

chairman, Bruce Mason, to succeed him when he retires at the end of the

month.



The appointment of Bell, chief executive of True North’s Bozell

Worldwide subsidiary, ends a torrid period for the company, which also

owns the FCB network. The group has been criticised for low operating

margins, insufficient global reach and over-reliance on too few global

clients.



True North this week hit back at the criticisms after posting 1998

year-end results which showed net income up 25.7 per cent to dollars

69.4 million on revenues of dollars 1.2 billion.



Bell dismissed talk of True North being ’in play’ as a bid target,

saying: ’I’m a builder of companies, not a seller.’ True North shares on

the New York Stock Exchange rose 15 per cent on news of his

appointment.



Bell, 55, will head a new front-line team at the world’s sixth largest

communications group. It will also include Don Seeley, who adds the

vice-chairmanship to his current responsibilities as chief financial

officer, and Don Elliman, a True North director and past president of

Sports Illustrated who becomes chairman of the board’s executive

committee.



Leo-Arthur Kelmenson takes over Bell’s role at Bozell while retaining

the chairmanship of the network. Kelmenson, along with the FCB chairman,

Brendan Ryan, declined to be considered for the True North chairmanship,

saying that they wished to remain as network heads rather than take on

the finance-orientated holding company position.



Bell and Mason are old friends, having joined Leo Burnett in Chicago on

the same day 30 years ago where they shared a desk in the media research

department.



Mason said: ’David is admired and respected throughout the

communications industry as a smart, driven, compassionate leader.’



Bell joined Bozell in 1975 when the agency of which he was president,

Knox Reeves Advertising, was acquired. He has been involved with some of

the network’s largest accounts including Chrysler, Bristol-Myers Squibb

and the New York Times.



Global brief, p12.



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