Interpublic board set to oust CEO John Dooner

NEW YORK - John Dooner could be ousted as the chairman and chief executive of the Interpublic Group of Companies as the board meets today to discuss the future of senior executives.

The fates of chief financial officer Sean Orr and McCann-Erickson WorldGroup chairman and CEO James Heekin are also likely to be topics of discussion at the meeting. Interpublic is due to publish its fourth-quarter earnings next week, and its results are expected to be disappointing.

David Bell, vice-chairman of Interpublic and the former head of True North, which was bought by Interpublic in 2000, is tipped as a likely replacement for Dooner. Other investors are reported to favour a return to the previous management team of CEO Philip Geier and chief financial officer Eugene Beard.

Dooner took on the CEO role at Interpublic two years ago and his reign has seen the company's share price plummet as details of accounting irregularities at McCann-Erickson WorldGroup emerged. This lead to Interpublic restating $181.3m (£115m) in earnings, a charge that came at a time when revenues were already hit by the advertising recession.

Interpublic also faces questions over its debt level, following an acquisition binge in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is in the process of selling research company NFO Worldgroup, although it is likely to get far less than it paid for the company.

Prior to taking the CEO role, Dooner had been chief operating officer for six months. Before that, he lead McCann-Erickson for five years.

Last month, McCann-Erickson was replaced on the account for Coke Classic by Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, part of rival WPP Group. Dooner had personally worked on the Coke account.

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