Robert Lerwill named as chief executive of Aegis

The non-executive director will replace Doug Flynn, who is joining Rentokil.

Robert Lerwill, the new chief executive of Aegis, said this week that the group's future success is not dependent on a sale to one of the large advertising holding companies.

Lerwill told Campaign: "I'm here to run the business and deliver more of the same success. I'm not here to speculate on what might happen in the future but I don't see the need for any more consolidation on the media buying side."

Lerwill replaces Doug Flynn, who is joining Rentokil Initial as its chief executive after turning down an offer to run the Australian newspaper group Fairfax.

Flynn, a former managing director of News Internat-ional, joined Aegis in 1999.

He will take up his position at Rentokil in April.

Lerwill, 53, was formerly the group finance director at WPP, where he worked between 1986 and 1996.

He subsequently joined Cable & Wireless as the telecoms giant's group finance director.

Lerwill then went on to run C&W's regional division and since leaving the company has held non-executive positions at Aegis, British American Tobacco and Synergy Healthcare.

Aegis, which owns the media networks Carat and Vizeum as well as a collection of research companies under the Synovate banner, issues its 2004 results next month, but issued a confident trading statement last December indicating that performance had been good across its business. Its most recent forecasts for 2005's global adspend are less bullish than others, predicting a 4.9 per cent growth.

Flynn's strategy had been to grow the business, especially on the research side, through acquisition. He was responsible for buying at least 30 companies during his time as the chief executive and was behind the creation of Vizeum as a standalone network. Recent Aegis acquisitions include the US internet search marketing agency and the UK digital creative agency de-construct.

Lerwill said he looked forward to returning to the world of advertising and media. "I kept my toe in the water as a non-executive director of Aegis, so I'm in an industry and a company I'm comfortable in," he said "I know the management and I have supported the strategy, so it should be a fairly easy transition - which is an advantage for clients and shareholders."

Colin Sharman, the chairman of Aegis, said: "Aegis is in a strong position to develop and Robert will bring further momentum to this."

- Perspective, p12.