NEW YORK: 'Retirement' is clearly not on the agenda of Grey Global Group chairman/ceo Ed Meyer who hits the Big 80 in January. Nonetheless he has decided to step down from the helm of the agency network he has steered with unerring canniness for the past thirty-six years.

The date of his exit has yet to be revealed, although it is likely to be announced before Western civilisation starts its ten-day shutdown in two weeks time.

Meantime, Grey's self-styled "benign dictator" belies his years and is categorically not shopping for a platinum-plated rocking chair yet awhile.

A clause in his contract with WPP Group entitles him to office accommodation, support staff and expenses for five years after his retirement.

Word from within Grey's executive washrooms is that the about-to-be retired autocrat will shortly launch an investment company in partnership with his banker son.

A quondam bed salesman, Meyer joined Grey Advertising, then a strictly junior league agency, in 1956 as account supervisor on the newly-won Procter & Gamble business.

His success in growing P&G's global brands, as well as smaller regional products such as Hoffman Beverages and Chock Full O' Nuts, helped establish Grey's reputation as a packaged-goods agency - in tandem with Meyer's personal standing.

By the mid-sixties, Grey was recognised on Madison Avenue as a mainstream player. It went public in 1965 and Meyer was named chief executive in 1970.

Until Grey's acquisition by WPP in March 2005, Meyer was the group's controlling shareholder and is said to have personally cleared over $500 million (€378.36m; £255.57m) from the transaction.

There is, as yet, no word as to his successor.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff