Anthony Freedman to step down as Havas chairman and CEO; no replacement to come

Havas Group Australia and New Zealand CEO and chairman, Anthony Freedman is set to step down later this year, as he looks to “embark on a new chapter”.

In stepping down, this will also bring an end to his relationship with both agencies he founded, Host/Havas and One Green Bean. He founded Host in 2000 in Sydney, and later One Green Bean in 2007, with both later being acquired by the French holding group in 2011. 

Freedman leaves Havas, and the agencies he founded

Havas said that in leaving Havas, there will not be a direct replacement for Freedman, with each individual CEO locally now reporting directly in to their global network CEOs.

The three Havas ANZ CEOs are Laura Aldington for Havas Creative Group (Host/Havas), Virginia Hyland at Havas Media Group, and Simone Gupta as Havas PR CEO (Red Havas, One Green Bean, and Organic).

Freedman said: “Having set the Village up for success, with strong leadership, leading agency brands and a world class client portfolio, it’s time for me to embark on a new chapter.”

On the specifics of the timing, Freedman told Mumbrella: “In terms of timing for the conclusion of my role, after five and a half years, and with exceptionally strong leadership in place with Laura, Simone, and Virginia, I felt that I could step away to explore opportunities closer to my now home base in London, confident that the future prosperity of Havas in ANZ was in safe hands.”

He continued: “In regard to our succession strategy, we are very lucky to have three experienced and talented CEOs overseeing our agencies, and with them reporting into the Global leads of their various areas, our new structure will enable them collectively to expand their responsibilities, whilst increasing their autonomy to make smart and swift decisions in the best interests of our people, clients and business.”

Global chairman and CEO of Havas Group, Yannick Bollore said: “Across the globe in 2021-22 Havas has built strong momentum. Anthony has been key to driving growth in Australia and New Zealand, making it one of our most successful markets in the region.”

“Anthony has brought a sharp commercial acumen and an entrepreneurial spirit that has seen the ANZ group grow and innovate. He has curated a strong bench of leadership across the agencies, which are all in double-digit growth. He is leaving the group in great shape, and in great hands.”

Freedman brought all of Havas’ agencies together in its current Village office in Sydney in 2019, then in Melbourne in 2020. The group also acquired both Catchi in 2018 and Hyland Media in 2020 to bolster its media offering, with Hyland later taking the Havas Media CEO role.

Hyland, Aldington, and Gupta

Aldington and Gupta are both up for Industry Leader of the Year at this week’s Mumbrella Awards.

During his time leading both agencies he founded, Freedman was appointed as the inaugural chairman of the board at the Communications Council (now ACA).

In June, Havas Village Sydney won the sought-after Tourism Fiji global consolidated account, which includes creative, CX/digital and media. The group reportedly beat out a long list of competitors, which had over 100 responses to its initial RFP. 

Last year, founding CEO of Havas Media, Mike Wilson left the group. He led the launch of Havas Media locally in Australia in 2013, then moving into the newly created chairman role in 2019. At the same time the company announced Matt Houltham would step into the CEO role of the group across Australia and New Zealand, shortly after, Hyland took over.

Last year, the Havas Village local CEOs appeared on the Mumbrellacast.


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