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Havas North Asia CEO Levent Guenes parts ways with agency for new role at Netflix

Havas and its North Asia chairman and chief executive Levent Guenes have parted ways, with the experienced ad executive set for a key role at Netflix, Mumbrella has learned.

His exit, after 17 years at Havas, comes less than 12 months after he was handed the task of driving growth in the tough-to-crack North Asia region.

Since early 2017 Guenes, in the role of chief growth officer, was also responsible for mergers and acquisitions across Asia Pacific.

Sources said Guenes will oversee creative partnerships for Netflix in a new position he will start next month.

Prior to his M&A role at Havas, Guenes was South east Asia CEO for Havas Creative Group.

But the role became defunct in March 2017 after the creation of the Havas ‘Together’ strategy which saw the merger of media, creative and healthcare divisions under one P&L in the region.

He was appointed to the North Asia role in May 2018.

The reasons for Guenes’s departure are unclear but it is evident that, after 17 years at Havas, the lure of a fresh challenge at Netflix was attractive.

But it is also understood there were differences of opinion over the strategic direction Havas was taking.

In addition, sources said Havas has yet to make any significant headway in North Asia, a region which Havas Group APAC chief executive Mike Amour had identified as a key target for growth.

Guenes will not be replaced, with the two North Asia markets – Havas Group Japan and Havas Group Korea – now reporting to Amour.

Last year, Mumbrella revealed Amour had set out plans to “scale quickly” in Korea and Japan, and pledged to invest more regional management support to achieve its ambitions.

Amour said in a statement: “Guenes has made a significant contribution to Havas Group’s business in APAC, including helping accelerate our creative presence in South East Asia, as well as implementing a comprehensive M&A strategy for accelerated inorganic growth in the region. We wish Levent the very best with his next chapter.”

In the same statement, Guenes said it had been a “privilege to work with Havas Group in various leadership roles in multiple geographies in Europe and APAC over the past 17 years”.

“I wish Mike and the team at Havas Group APAC well with its future development,” he added.

Guenes new role will reunite the ad executive with the streaming giant, a client of the agency. In 2017 the agency’s Singapore office won two Cannes silver Lions for its campaign promoting the The Crown, a series about Queen Elizabeth II. 

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