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Cordiant appoints Nigel Stapleton as chairman

LONDON - Cordiant Communications has appointed the former Reed Elsevier co-chairman and Unilever executive Nigel Stapleton as its new chairman, boosting its battered share price.

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Stapleton replaces the outgoing Charlie Scott with effect from March 1 2003. The appointment of the new chairman follows speculation this morning that Cordiant plans to sell its Australian advertising agency George Patterson Bates, one of the country's largest, to venture capitalists.

According to reports, Cordiant is to sell the 67-year-old agency to venture capitalists for around £43m. Cordiant declined to comment on the report saying that it does not "comment on market rumour".

Cordiant's shares rose by 6.9% to 25.5p following the announcement, after falling 15.5% this morning, having already lost more than 90% of their value since 2000. The earlier fall again raised the possibility that Cordiant could be a takeover target.

Earlier this week, the group was hit by the prospect of losing its £25m Woolworth's account, which it has held for 17 years.

His appointment comes shortly after Michael Bungey left his role as chief executive early, going quietly over Christmas, to be replaced by David Hearn.

Scott announced he was resigning from the troubled advertising holding company in September last year. Shareholders had been pushing for senior management changes at the company, which owns the Bates Worldwide advertising network, although when Scott resigned the company issued a statement saying it had "absolutely nothing to do with shareholder pressure".

Stapleton was with Reed Elsevier for 13 years before leaving his role as co-chairman in April 1999. Other positions he held at the Dutch publishing and exhibitions giant included chief financial officer.

Before joining Reed Elsevier in 1986, Stapleton spent 18 years as an executive at Unilever. He has also worked for the US media investment bank Veronis, Suhler as chairman of its European affiliate.

Stapleton holds non-executive directorships of AXA UK, Reliance, the London Stock Exchange, and he is chairman of Uniq.

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