Following a six-month trawl for its first chief operating officer, Interpublic Group announced Wednesday it had appointed Christopher Coughlin (50), currently executive vice president and chief financial officer at drugs giant Pharmacia. He will be piped aboard on June 16.

The quest for a heavyweight coo was instigated last November when IPG revealed it had overstated earnings to the tune of $181.3 million over a period back beyond 1997. This in turn sparked an informal probe into the group’s fiscal affairs by the Securities and Exchange Commission, since upgraded to a formal investigation and still in progress.

Said an Interpublic statement: “[Coughlin] will team with Interpublic chairman and ceo David Bell in managing the advertising and marketing services holding company and will serve on the board of directors.” It added that current chief financial officer Sean F Orr will retain his current job, reporting directly to Coughlin.

Before joining Pharmacia, Coughlin held a dual role at Nabisco Holdings where he was evp-cfo coupled with the presidency of Nabisco International.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff