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Havas shakes up APAC reporting lines, as CEO and chairman Mike Amour becomes latest to exit

Amour will leave in October

Havas in Singapore will see yet another high-level departure, with the Asia-Pacific CEO and chairman Mike Amour leaving the agency network just weeks after the South East Asia chief creative officer Valerie Madon left and the North Asia chairman and chief executive, Levent Guenes, departed for Netiflix.

Madon left at the time of the E-Pay ‘brownface’ campaign controversy in July, but both Havas and Madon insisted her departure was not linked to the debacle. The aftermath of which saw government ministers in Singapore being forced to make public statements on the ills of racism, in order to calm sentiment among citizens.

Guenes went following 17 years at Havas, his exit coming less than 12 months after he was handed the task of driving growth in the tough-to-crack North Asia region. There were past reports of the group being unable to make headway in North Asia, with Amour in an internal memo identifying Japan and Korea as two of the most important advertising markets in the world. Also in February, Singapore chief creative officer Andrew Hook left to join VCCP.

However, Havas insisted that Amour’s departure stemmed from nothing more than a desire to “simplify the lines of management for our media and creative leadership teams, so they are more directly connected to their local APAC markets teams”.

An agency spokesperson told Mumbrella: “The decision was made entirely mutually, in context of the direction of our business. Mike has been instrumental in reorganising our operations in APAC over the past three years and has been very supportive of the new structure.  The process now being in its final stage it is now the right time to simplify lines of management and enable the transition from global to local involvement.”

When asked if the move was linked to the E-Pay furore, the spokesperson added: “No. They are two separate events.”

Amour – who oversaw 17 countries and nearly 2,500 staff – is expected to leave in October following a transition period. He will not be replaced, although Madon will be. The restructuring will mean India reports to global media and creative leadership via Vishnu Mohan, the chairman and CEO of Havas Group for India and South East Asia. Meanwhile, the Havas teams in Greater China and Australia will from this point on report directly to the global leadership in New York and London. 

In a joint statement announcing the reorganisation, the global Havas Creative CEO Chris Hirst and the global Havas Media CEO Peter Mears said: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve been strategically investing in our Asia Pacific region with a specific focus on key acquisitions and partnerships in China and India. 

“We’ve also been working closely with Mike Amour on how best to organise the region in terms of servicing our clients and fostering continued growth and innovation. Together we have decided to simplify the lines of management for our media and creative leadership teams, so they are more directly connected to their local APAC markets teams.”

“On behalf of the Havas Group, we would like to thank Mike for his contributions to the organisation over the past years and wish him every success for the future”. 

Amour, who had been with Havas since 2016 when he joined from Starcom, added: “It has been a privilege to help drive the Havas Village strategy across this complex region, and to see how that plus Vivendi’s world-class capabilities can make a real difference to our clients’ businesses. I wish Chris and Peter continued success as they take Havas Group to new heights.”

Previously, Amour worked for other agencies including Grey, TBWA, Wieden+Kennedy and McCann. He joined as CEO of Havas creative group Asia Pacific in October 2016. On Amour’s watch in 2017, the network implemented the ambitious merger of its creative and media profit and loss statement right across the APAC region. The move left Amour in charge of 79 offices.

During his tenure, the agency acquired several companies including Malaysian digital agency Immerse, Australian martech firm Catchi and three agencies in India – healthcare specialist Sorento, user experience firm Think Design and most recently digital specialist Langoor.

Other recent senior departures from Havas this year included the Havas Media Malaysia CEO Andreas Vogiatzakis, who left to join the Star Media Group, and Havas North Asia vice chairman Stephen Cox.

The agency spokesperson also said the recent staff changes would not affect the business or morale, stating: “Havas Group continues to have a winning momentum in the region as demonstrated by the recent wins of Union Pay (China) Sydney Water (Australia) Changi Airport Group retention (Singapore) to share a few examples. 

“We are growing inorganically in the region through our recent acquisitions (Think Design, Langoor) that illustrates our commitment to continue to invest and grow in the region. Additionally, our integration into Vivendi offers our clients an unparalleled differentiator – entertainment and our partnerships with Vivendi companies continues to grow.”

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