Publicis Groupe has appointed Steve King (44) to take the global helm of its ZenithOptimedia network.

Formerly the agency's ceo for Europe, Middle East and Africa, he becomes global chairman/ceo in place of company co-founder John Perriss, whose resignation, reported last week [WAMN: 12-Mar-04], arched more than a few eyebrows around the media parish pump.

The reasons behind Perriss' departure remain interestingly vague. In his own words: "It has long been my intention to cease fulltime executive employment at the age of 55 years, and I am now approaching my 56th birthday … I'm comfortable taking my leave in favour of a limited number of non-executive roles as well as being able to devote more time to my private interests."

With annual billings of $16 billion (€13.04bn; £8.77bn), ZO ranks sixth in the global media agency league, numbering Mars, SC Johnson and Toyota among its clients.

The appointment of King, reportedly a "close ally" of Perriss with whom he co-founded the merged ZO agency in 2001, will be reassuring to staffers, many of whom were rattled last week by rumours from New York that Perriss' departure presaged a merger with sibling Publicis network Starcom MediaVest.

There was the usual exchange of eulogies.

Perriss: "I am delighted Steve is to take on my role. As well as being highly regarded and respected throughout the ZenithOptimedia global network, with a reputation for effective client service, Steve is also a very charismatic and personable leader."

King: "I'm obviously delighted and eager to meet the challenges of this position. John has helped this company achieve tremendous momentum, and I share his determination to preserve and enhance ZenithOptimedia's status."

"All's well that ends well," as some bard or another once said.

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