Staff Reporters
Mar 17, 2021

GroupM's Mark Lollback latest to depart WPP AUNZ, as takeover approaches

GroupM's Australia and New Zealand CEO Mark Lollback is departing, at the same time as parent company WPP prepares for a potential takeover.

Mark Lollback
Mark Lollback

GroupM's Australia and New Zealand CEO is stepping down on Friday (March 19) after five years leading the business.

Mark Lollback joined GroupM in 2016 having previously held senior marketing positions at the likes of McDonald's, ANZ and Unilever. He said wants to "return to where my heart is, into client-side marketing". He plans to work more closely with startups he has invested in, and pursue independent board director positions.

GroupM APAC CEO Ashutosh Srivastava will lead the AUNZ business in the interim, while WPP AUNZ looks for Lollback's replacement. (Srivastava's plate is getting fuller by the day; he is also taking on the APAC CEO role for Mindshare as the company seeks a replacement for Amrita Randhawa, whose move to Publicis Groupe was announced yesterday.) 

Lollback said he was "extremely proud" of his tenure at GroupM, during which time he has overseen the integration between the company’s portfolio of agencies including Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker and Essence, and the launch of its addressable TV business Finecast.

WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees commented: "Mark is a highly regarded industry leader, and on behalf of myself and the executive team we would like to thank him for his strong leadership through challenging times."

Lollback's departure follows a string of leadership shifts at WPP AUNZ, as the agency network steps closer to a complete takeover by global holding company WPP.

Last month, VMLY&R AUNZ CEO Jon Bird was moved into an executive chairman role, and replaced as CEO by Isobar's Thomas Tearle. Last year, long-serving WPP AUNZ chairman John Steedman retired after a 45-year run with the network, Kieran Moore departed from her role as CEO of PR, GR, experiential and design, Lee Leggett replaced John Gutteridge as CEO of Wunderman Thompson Australia, and Ogilvy Australia CEO David Fox left to lead the Middle East and North Africa region.

Earlier this week, the NSW Supreme Court approved a meeting of WPP AUNZ shareholders, to be held on April 21, to consider the WPP takeover offer.

WPP, which currently owns 61.5% of WPP AUNZ shares, is offering to pay AU$0.70 a share, or AU$230 million, to buy the remaining 38.5% of the company.

PricewaterhouseCoopers assessed the market value of a WPP AUNZ and said that the offer is "fair and reasonable" and therefore in the best interest of WPP AUNZ minority shareholders in the absence of a superior proposal.

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