- The future leadership of True North is open to question as its chairman, Bruce Mason, prepares to retire next month without a named successor.
Senior executives of the world's sixth largest global network, mooted as a potential bidder for Bates Worldwide, are said to be dismayed at the delay in finding a replacement for Mason, who is set to bow out at the age of 60.
The group, which owns the Bozell and FCB networks, is said to have considered internal candidates as well as outsiders, but sources say the succession is being hampered by internal wranglings.
"The fact that the process is taking so long is causing a lot of grief," a True North source said. "We're waiting with baited breath for an outcome. We need a dynamic leader like WPP's Martin Sorrell or Interpublic's Phil Geier, but those people don't become available very often."
The main aspirant for Mason's job is Chuck Peebler, president of Bozell, which was acquired by True North in a $440 million deal last year. But Peebler's age -- he is in his early 60s -- counts against him along with the opposition to his appointment from influential FCB managers.
Brendan Ryan, the FCB chairman, was also thought to be a candidate. But he is said to be reluctant to take it on. "He's an adman at heart and doesn't want to be dealing with Wall Street," a source said.
One option under consideration would be for Mason to defer his departure until later in the year. But this would not go down well with Mason's opponents within the group who are said to be unhappy at some of his decisions.
In particular, he has faced internal criticism over his handling of the group's global alliance with Publicis which collapsed amid much acrimony and a mass of lawsuits.