Omnicom Publishes Directors’ Resignation Letters

19 June 2002

Omnicom Group, emerging from the debris of its share price crash (twenty-seven percent down since the Wall Street Journal’s damaging critical coverage first appeared on June 12) responded Tuesday to the ‘request’ from the Securities and Exchange Commission for further information on the resignation of two main board directors.

According to Omnicom, “the informal request received for this information was not unusual and was anticipated by the company following last week's press reports.”

Accordingly, the agency holding company took the unusual step of publishing both letters of resignation, respectively from Richard Beattie on January 28 and Robert J Callander on May 22.

The former, addressed to Omnicom chairman Bruce Crawford, read:

Dear Bruce: As I told John on the telephone this morning, because of increasing demands on my time as Vice Chairman of the Boards of Overseers and Managers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Chairman of the Board of Managers of Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases, I find it necessary to cut back on other activities. Accordingly, I hereby resign as a member of the Board of Directors of Omnicom. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and John, and I am sorry that my term on the Board must be so short. I wish you and John and Omnicom continued success. Sincerely, Richard I. Beattie.

As ever, between-the-lines theorists discern a hidden text in Beattie’s letter, suggesting that the reasons give were cosmetic. No proof of this has come to light.

Callender’s letter, in contrast, wasted no time on niceties: ‘Dear Bruce, Effective immediately, I am submitting my resignation from the Board of Directors of the Omnicom Group, Inc. Sincerely, Robert J. Callander.

Omnicom president/ceo John Wren has since declared it to be his understanding that Callander’s resignation was prompted by confusion over whether or not the board had approved the creation of Seneca. In a conference call to analysts on June 12, Wren said [verbatim]:

“He [Callander] in questioning Seneca asked our legal counsel who keeps minutes if Seneca had been authorized by the Board. Our legal counsel did a word search on the computer as instructed, and told him `no, it had never been authorized.’ He was very upset about that; at least this is what I’m aware of. Got into the conversation, it was internal, and he decided to resign. His resignation was simply that, that he was resigning from the Board. There was no reason given. Bruce Crawford, the chairman of the company, had a follow up conversation with him in which he said `there was no reason for his resignation, he was just leaving.”

Wren insisted that the company later established that the board had authorized the formation of an entity initially branded E-Services Transactions, and renamed Seneca two months later.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff