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Cordiant shares rise on Stapleton appointment

LONDON - The market has responded favourably to the appointment of Nigel Stapleton as the new head of Cordiant Communications, with the beleaguered advertising company's shares closing up 10.6% to 26p yesterday.

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Cordiant's share price had slumped to 23.5p the day before, with the news that Woolworths was reviewing its £25m advertising account, held by Cordiant's Bates Worldwide.

Stapleton will join in March, replacing Charlie Scott, who announced he was leaving the company in September last year. Cordiant already has a new chief executive in David Hearn, who replaced Michael Bungey when he retired in January.

With Hearn and Stapleton, Cordiant is now headed by a team with more experience in the food industries than in running advertising agencies. However, Stapleton has extensive media experience from his 13 years at Reed Elsevier, where he was co-chairman. He is also well known in the City for turning around the fortune of Uniq, the food company formerly known as Unigate, where he sold off the company's dairy interests to concentrate on convenience foods.

Hearn is a former senior manager at Procter & Gamble, Smiths Crisps,

PepsiCo and the one-time head of United Biscuits' European snack foods

division, as well as doing a stint as chief executive of Goodman Fielder, the largest food group in Australia.

There are rumours circulating that Cordiant is looking to sell the Australian outpost of Bates, George Patterson, to a group of venture capitalists for £43m.

Whatever Stapleton's City credentials, he will have an uphill task. Cordiant's share price has lost more than 75% of its value over the past year.

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