WCRS chair Wight plots to buy out agency from Havas

LONDON - Robin Wight, Leon Jaume and Stephen Woodford, WCRS's chairman, executive creative director and chief executive respectively, are engineering a management buyout from its parent, Havas Advertising.

Peter Scott, a co-founder and former managing director of WCRS, is thought to be involved in the discussions, specifically the funding of any proposal. Scott, who has also held the position of chairman at Aegis, is a multimillionaire having founded the Test Valley Water company.

The news breaks as WCRS attempts to poach Bartle Bogle Hegarty's creative director, Russell Ramsey. Ramsey had been lined up to be the joint creative director at WCRS alongside Leon Jaume. However, as Campaign went to press, Ramsey was undecided over remaining at BBH or moving to WCRS. The timing of the attempted recruitment would suggest that Ramsey is likely to be included in the management buyout.

No formal deal has yet been tabled but the talks are known to have involved Ed Eskandarian, the chairman and chief executive officer of Arnold Worldwide Partners, of which WCRS is the UK creative agency representative.

"There are many things going on in our reorganisation of Havas and until we have firmed up what we are doing in total there is no comment on specific issues or speculation," Eskandarian said.

It is not known what percentage of WCRS the triumvirate are aiming to buy back.

The proposed buyout follows the restructure announced by Havas in July. Havas is pursuing an integration policy through the roll out of its Euro RSCG Worldwide "power of one" strategy.

Alain de Pouzilhac, the Havas chairman and chief executive, explained how, in consultation with Bob Schmetterer, the chairman and chief executive of Euro RSCG Worldwide, the organisation needed to be "simplified, rationalised and avoid any duplication" and how "Euro RSCG Worldwide will become our single global agency network".

In the UK, the policy saw the merger earlier this month of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper and Partners BDDH.

The key elements of the restructure included having the group's global clients principally developed by Euro RSCG Worldwide; only in what are considered key markets, a creative alternative would be offered by Arnold Worldwide Partners; and more focus would be put on developing media capability through the development of Media Planning Group.

A Havas spokesman said details of the reorganisation will be made public on September 18 with the company's half-yearly results. WCRS declined to comment.

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