A senior source within Publicis Groupe China has confirmed the change, rumours of which have been circulating since February. Billingsley will move to Europe and Michael Lee, currently chief operating officer and president of Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China, will take over the CEO role, according to this source.
Contacted multiple times for comment over the past few months, Billingsley has continued to deny his departure. Talk of executive departures is commonplace in the industry, he indicated by email this morning.
"I expect to stay with Saatchi and in due course this is naturally likely to mean a change in location,” he wrote. “But right now I am China CEO and will certainly be in role well beyond June. No other role or timing has been confirmed amongst the range of options that always exist. Michael is our president and we have a great partnership.”
Lee also declined to comment when contacted this morning, but made reference to an internal annoucement in June. Asked about changes in Greater China leadership, a Saatchi & Saatchi China PR spokersperson also indicated to Campaign Asia-Pacific that the agency will have a formal announcement in June.
Another source within Saatchi & Saatchi China, said that Billingsley, who assumed his role in 2011, has been looking for another role within Publicis Groupe and is expected to leave China in June or July.