WPP prepares for takeover offer with cull of Red Cell London staff

The WPP-owned Red Cell network has culled the senior management of

its London office in what is being seen as a "deck-clearing" operation

in advance of an impending acquisition.



The casualties include Julian Saunders, who has been asked to step down

as the chief executive to become European strategic planning director,

John Trainor, the creative director, Simon Frank, the executive creative

director, and Michelle Katz, the new-business director. Four others have

also been axed.



A major factor in the decision is believed to have been London's loss of

income from the Bank of Scotland account, now handled almost exclusively

by the Red Cell operation in Glasgow.



Industry sources say the slimming down, which leaves 20 staff remaining,

will make it easier to conclude a deal with one of four London agencies

understood to be in takeover talks with Red Cell.



Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's chief executive, is said to have given his

approval for the restructure of Red Cell in London which was set in

motion by Luca Lindner, the Red Cell chief executive, who is about to

join D'Arcy.



John Wringe, Red Cell's chief operating officer, said: "With Red Cell's

acquisition of a New York agency now imminent, we need a strong London

agency and we haven't got the time to wait for organic growth."



As a temporary measure, Stuart Burnett, the creative director of

Perspectives Red Cell, will take creative control of the London agency.

It will be run by an executive committee including Wringe, Nick Kerr,

the managing director, and Kathryn Herrick, the network's chief

financial officer.



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