Ex-Unilever man to be WPP chairman

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The Independent Online
WPP, the debt-ridden advertising and marketing group, has invited Gordon Stevens, a former chairman of Unilever's North American arm, to succeed David Ogilvy as chairman.

Shareholders are expected to receive a letter from the company today - explaining the terms of a refinancing agreed with the group's banks - in which the proposed appointment will be announced.

They will have an opportunity to vote on the terms of the capital reconstruction and on the appointment of the new chairman at an extraordinary meeting next month.

Mr Stevens, 66, is non-executive chairman of Scholl, the foot-products company, and was chairman of Unilever United States and Canada. He spent almost 40 years at the giant consumer products group. Mr Ogilvy, who is 81, will become president emeritus of the group.

The refinancing will involve a debt-for-equity swap in which the group's 28 banks will subscribe a total of pounds 150m for new shares at 60p each.

The company also plans to convert pounds 200m worth of convertible shares into ordinary paper.