WPP Appoints Saudi Business Queen to Board

15 March 2005

Peace in the Middle East - now on the cards for the first time in half a century - could bring mouthwatering business opportunities.

And WPP Group ceo Sir Martin Sorrell, ever to the fore in spotting such a propitious kick at the can, has moved to take advantage of the situtation - or so his latest non-executive board appointment would suggest.

Leading Saudi businesswoman, Lubna S Olayan, who heads The Olayan Group, founded by her father in 1947, has joined the WPP board.

She will sit alongside other world-class movers and shakers like Philip Lader, former US ambassador to the UK; ex-Merrill Lynch group chairman David Komansky; and Koichiro Naganuma, president and group chief operating officer of Asatsu-DK.

US-educated Olavan will bring to the WPP party a platinum plated contacts book and unrivalled knowledge of the Saudi and Middle Eastern business scene.

The Olayan Group deals in distribution, manufacturing, services and investment. It operates or actively participates in some forty companies, often in partnership with leading multinationals.

WPP, which of late has been on a seemingly unstoppable winning streak, might now appreciate a Middle Eastern helping hand - especially in the light of the imminent exit from WPP's MindShare of Gillette's $600 million (€449.57m; £313.87m) business.

The expected departure follows MindShare's recent gain of Unilever's worldwide media planning and buying business.

This news was greeted eyeballs akimbo by Bernard Glock, global media and communications chief at Gillette's new parent Procter & Gamble, who proclaimed he would "never work with a Unilever agency".

Data sourced from mad.co.uk and WPP website; additional content by WARC staff