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
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
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
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
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
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.