Staff Reporters Emily Tan
Jan 22, 2016

Dentsu Aegis consolidates APAC operations with SEA team exit

SINGAPORE - In a bid to cut “duplicate costs”, Dentu Aegis Network (DAN) has consolidated its operations in Asia Pacific, with four Southeast Asian leads exiting the business.

Nick Waters
Nick Waters

The changes were announced by APAC CEO Nick Waters in an email sent to APAC level executives and country leaders, which was leaked to Mumbrella.

“… We have identified the opportunity to create a more efficient and effective working structure by consolidating the Asia Pacific and SEA functions—Finance, Legal, IT and Communications,” he wrote.

The four executives exiting are regional chief financial officer Theo Lau, regional talent management director Ujjwal Sarao, regional director of marketing and communications Thijs Plug and regional marketing and corporate communications manager Lavinia Rajaram.

Sources speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific under the condition of anonymity said that while management described the moves as a “consolidation”, no cost efficiency plan was decided or shared. It is understood that many within the regional operations are still absorbing the changes.

Post reorganisation, corporate communications will be led by Laura Green-Wilkinson, regional director of marketing and communications, while finance will be led by Steven McNaught, APAC CFO, and regional HR by Kinch Ong.

It is understood that out of the affected executives, Plug is currently pursuing other opportunities outside of the network.

Speaking to Campaign, Waters said the changes were not a sudden move, given the formation of DAN took place in January 2014.

“Mumbrella has chosen to make it more dramatic than it really is,” he said. “You evolve the way you operate and the structures that you need over time.”

Waters added that the changes were “really a very mundane operational thing.”

“For the people involved, it’s of course very emotional and sensitive," he added. "This is natural. No one likes to lose his or her job."

According to Waters, when Dentsu and Aegis were brought together, each had its individual costs and structures, and while the merger was not predicated on cost savings, it was predicated on revenue growth.

“Two years down the line, it’s very clear to me that these roles weren’t needed,” he added. “This is very unpleasant for the people involved, but it’s business.”

Waters added that he couldn’t disclose the ins and outs of employee contracts, but that the company is adhering to all contractual obligations.

Asked whether moves have been made to find new roles for affected staff, Waters said: “This is about finding more efficient ways of running the business, not about moving people around.”

Waters assured that there will be no change to SEA CEO Dick van Motman’s role.

“This is purely about back-office efficiency, this move doesn’t impact the front office,” he said.

 

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