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News Plus 28 Apr 2021 - 2 min read

WPP boss Jens Monsees sets up shop in GroupM as leadership race heats up

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

A spokesperson for WPP "categorically denied" any interest in the job, adding that Monsees was leading the charge to find a replacement for the position.

WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees has "taken up residence" at GroupM's headquarters in Sydney following the departure of former boss Mark Lollback. Industry insiders claim the holding group CEO has a "keen eye" on the role, with his current leadership position potentially in doubt following shareholder approval of the takeover. Monsees is managing the hunt for Lollback's replacement. WPP categorically denied he had any interest in taking over the role.

What you need to know:

  • Industry insiders have told Mi3 WPP's local boss Jens Monsees has "taken up residence" in the Sydney headquarters of the company's media investment arm GroupM.
  • Occupying the office of GroupM's former CEO Mark Lollback, observers claim Monsees has a "keen eye" on the role.
  • WPP denied any interest from Monsees in the GroupM top job, despite uncertainty over his position following shareholder approval of WPP's takeover of the listed Australian operation.
  • It is understood WPP is likely to ditch the CEO role in Australia in favour for a Country Lead position.

Trading places

WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees has reportedly moved offices, spending the majority of his time in GroupM's North Sydney headquarters.

One industry insider told Mi3 the holding group boss had "taken up residence" in the building and suggested Monsees had a "keen eye" on the GroupM CEO role, which remains vacant following the departure of Mark Lollback earlier this year.

A spokesperson for WPP "categorically denied" any interest in the job, adding that Monsees was leading the charge to find a replacement for the position.

They also confirmed Monsees' presence at the GroupM offices for two to three days week, operating as a "caretaker" for the role.

This has included taking on an increasing amount of Lollback's client and media owner meetings.

Following the news last week that WPP global's takeover bid for complete control of the Australian business had been approved by shareholders, questions over Monsees future at the business have been raised.

Monsees has consistently dismissed any leaks or rumours of discontent about his reforms and management style as gossip or sour grapes "from people who are leaving the business."

In his first year with the business, those rumours included claims Monsees was facing an internal rebellion from senior executives, a board-instigated performance review and had had a falling out with former WPP COO John Steedman, who subsequently retired (Monsees denied any acrimony).

Now that the takeover is set to go ahead, it is likely the CEO position will be scrapped in favour of a Country Lead role, in line with WPP's other markets.

Whether Monsees takes that role remains uncertain – he has privately expressed his desire to stay in Australia rather than return to Germany. However, for the top job at GroupM, speculation is rising about the potential candidates, which include many of the usual industry suspects: Mediabrands APAC boss Leigh Terry; OMD CEO Aimee Buchanan, former media agency bosses Henry Tajer and Danny Bass and Havas Chairman Mike Wilson, who is understood to be negotiating his current Havas contract.

Media industry speculation is notoriously loose – none of the aforementioned have been confirmed by Mi3 as having had discussions with WPP over the role.


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