The Publicis network is reverting to French control with the appointment of Olivier Fleurot, the former Financial Times chief executive, as executive chairman and Richard Pinder, Leo Burnett's European boss, as his number two.
The announcement of the new management line-up follows the surprise resignation of Rick Bendel as chief operating officer to become marketing director of the Asda supermarket chain (see story below).
Pinder, 42, is standing down as president EMEA for Leo Burnett, a Publicis Groupe subsidiary, and will move to Paris as Bendel's successor.
He will report to Fleurot, 54, who has set aside his career in media to become the Publicis executive chairman. His appointment will raise speculation that he has been marked out as heir-apparent to Maurice Levy, who retires as head of Publicis Groupe in 2010.
Levy has been looking at a number of leadership combinations for the network since Bendel told him in July that he was quitting Publicis after 15 years to take the Asda job.
Fleurot will be responsible for maintaining contacts at the senior client level, mapping out strategy and developing the network's digital capacity. Pinder will concentrate on operational issues.
"In Olivier, we have somebody from the outside who gives us a different point of view and a different experience, much of it gained beyond France," Levy said. "In Richard, we have somebody who can make things happen. They will be a formidable combination."
Pinder said: "I was very happy at Burnett, but this is a big job and an example of the greater cross-fertilisation taking place between Publicis Groupe operations."
Fleurot said: "Although I've not worked in agencies before I've had a lot of experience dealing with them as well as having worked at the cutting edge of digital technology."