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Interpublic CFO Leaving after a Year

The ad-agency and marketing company, which has had to delay its 10-K filing, is the subject of an expanding Securities and Exchange Commission probe.
Stephen TaubJune 29, 2005

Following just one year on the job, Robert Thompson is departing as CFO of The Interpublic Group. It was the latest bit of negative news for the big advertising and marketing company, which has had to delay its annual report and continues to be the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe.

The company has reached a tentative agreement with an outside candidate for the finance-chief slot who has “experience in senior finance roles in related industries,” according to Michael Roth, Interpublic’s chairman and chief executive officer. The company reported that it couldn’t reveal the candidate’s name until the second half of July because of the individual’s current job situation.

Concerning Thompson’s departure, Roth said: “Bob and I have independently come to the conclusion that the next steps in our company’s progress will require new financial leadership.” Thompson “came to me late last week to indicate his desire to leave,” the CEO added.

Separately, the company reported that a previously disclosed SEC investigation has expanded to cover recently disclosed, potential restatement items. Interpublic is still being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for restatements made in 2002.

The company also said it expects to file its 2004 annual report as well as its first and second quarter reports of this year by Sept. 30. It also reported that it has secured syndicate waivers and amendments to its 364-day and three-year credit facilities from its bank. The waivers and amendments push Interpublic’s financial filing deadline to Sept. 30, extend the termination date of the 364-day facility through Sept. 30, and make certain other changed to the terms of the credit agreements.

In March, Interpublic reported that it wouldn’t file its 2004 annual report on time and could need to restate its results. It cited material weaknesses in internal controls, including the documentation and control of the financial-results reporting process, and the time needed to complete its Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 report.

The most significant reporting difficulties concern acquisitions completed between 1996 and 2001. In those cases, Interpublic disclosed, it might have improperly consolidated the acquired companies’ results. The company reported that some other issues may also require it to restate prior results, adding that it has not yet determined the amounts and periods affected.