INFO LE FIGARO – After three decades at the head of the number 3 in the world of advertising, Maurice Lévy goes hand and acceded to the presidency of the supervisory board.
A 45-year-old, Arthur Sadoun successor, June 1, 2017, to Maurice Lévy, the chairman of the management board of Publicis. It has exactly the same age as had his mentor in 1987, when he had succeeded to the founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. Within Publicis, the continuity of operation and the long time are the cardinal virtues.
The appointment comes close the chapter on an estate long since announced, often delayed but meticulously weighed. Since the summer of 2015, Elisabeth Badinter, president of the management board, the daughter of Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, and first shareholder of Publicis had initiated the process of succession in perfect agreement with Maurice Lévy. The members of the nomination committee have reviewed the different options. Was it to appeal to a manager from the outside? No. There was a consensus to estimate that the group has sufficient talent in-house. Suddenly, the top managers, meeting within the executive board expanded, have been thoroughly evaluated by the supervisory Board.
quickly Enough, a clear solution emerges. The choice will be between Arthur Sadoun, the current boss of all the networks of the Publicis groupe, and Steve King, who directs the operations of Publicis Media. The latter explains to Maurice Lévy, he should rather opt for Arthur Sadoun and says it is ready to support the latter. It is ultimately the chosen solution. In five months, Arthur Sadoun will become the chairman of the management board of Publicis groupe and Steve King will integrate the executive board where he will join the bodyguards composed of Jean-Michel Etienne, the deputy director general in charge of finance and Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner, general secretary.
But, once this issue is resolved, another arose. What is the future of Maurice Lévy? Elisabeth Badinter insisted that he remains in the group in order to accompany the transition. She even offers its place as the chairperson of the supervisory board. “From my side, I have instead argued for a break, frank and I didn’t want to take the head of the supervisory board,” says Maurice Lévy. In the end, Elisabeth Badinter imposing its views, even if the fact of leaving his post of president requires that the shares of Publicis were submitted to the ISF. “The idea of a change of governance has been suggested, with the status of the Board of directors. But we have rejected considering that the governance must bend to the needs of the business and not those of its leaders”, adds Maurice Lévy.
Maurice Lévy will therefore be appointed, if the shareholders so decide, for four years at the head of the supervisory Board. “At the beginning, this will be a full time job. I will make sure to pass on the direct relationships that I have established with the major clients of Publicis. It is an intangible asset that must be handled with care even if it’s been already some time that I am preparing Arthur Sadoun him, opening all the doors,” says Maurice Lévy. “I shall continue to be involved in the major strategic options of the group and the folders of mergers and acquisitions,” he adds.” “One of the secrets of the success of Publicis for the past 30 years, has been the perfect osmosis that prevailed between Marcel Bleustein Blanchet and me and then between Elisabeth Badinter and me.”
The choice to entrust the reins of Publicis in Arthur Sadoun has been motivated by a number of criteria. “He has a vision of the market and was soon able to integrate digital into its reflection. It includes the trends of the trade and knows how to take the strategic shifts before all the world. This is a man who is in contact with the client. He understands their needs and knows how to provide the right solutions. He is a charismatic leader able to lead teams. Finally, it is French. It is important for Publicis, which is defined as a French company has globalised”, lists Maurice Lévy. In a hollow, it provides a portrait of his successor, very close to his own image. He does not forget to greet the skills of Steve King, “that has taken the media sector an exceptional and who has delivered outstanding performance”.
“He is a charismatic leader able to lead teams. Finally, it is French. It is important for Publicis, which is defined as a French company has globalized”
In 30 years, Maurice Lévy has hoisted Publicis 15th in the world ranking to number 3 in the world behind the giants of anglo-saxon Omnicom and WPP. But today, the world of communication is totally changed. Consumers of all ages have shifted in the digital era. The advertisers also. And between the two, the giants of the digital have developed platforms powerful, who aspire a very large part of the value of the market. At the end of 2014, after the failure of the marriage with Omnicom, Publicis takes a turn major strategic buying Sapient, a technology company specialist of the data processing.
Tomorrow, Arthur Sadoun will lead a group that evolves with the confluence of multiple markets: the one of communication, which weighs 600 billion dollars at the global level, the technology that weighs 900 billion and that of the consulting worth $ 150 billion. “If we are able to take market share on these three sets, we will be the kings of oil” analysis Maurice Lévy.
In the meantime, Publicis has yet to recover from the slump seen in 2014, when the management teams were too absorbed by the negotiations on the merger with Omnicom. The group had lost a number of clients and had seen his activity drop during a quarter. Since then, Publicis has won numerous competitions, including the budget HSBC World, and the accounts should recover.