Publicis's Kekst Names Larry Rand Chief Executive as Founder Pares Duties

Publicis Groupe SA’s Kekst & Co., the New York-based firm that pioneered public relations for corporate takeovers, named Larry Rand chief executive officer as founder Gershon Kekst gives up daily management of the company.

Kekst, 75, will continue as executive chairman of the firm, he said in a memo to staff today obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed by the company. Paris-based Publicis bought the 70- employee Kekst & Co., formerly a privately held partnership, in 2008.

“Larry is uniquely qualified for this responsibility,” Kekst said in the memo.

Rand, 67, was among the first employees to join Kekst after the firm’s founding in 1970. He is an adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a former mayor of Rye Brook, a village in the New York City suburbs.

“I don’t view this as a succession -- nobody’s going to succeed Gershon Kekst,” Rand said in an interview. “It’s a transition.”

Kekst & Co. aims to expand beyond its traditional work in mergers and acquisitions, crisis management and investor and media relations, Rand said. The firm will pursue more business in litigation support, restructuring and bankruptcy and corporate governance. The company opened its second office, in San Francisco, this year.

Along with Rand’s appointment, effective Sept. 1, Kekst & Co. is forming an executive committee of Rand, James Fingeroth, Jeffrey Taufield and Thomas Davies.

Kekst has counseled corporate chiefs including Sanford I. “Sandy” Weill of Citigroup Inc., Steven Ross of Time Warner Inc. and Henry Kravis of KKR & Co. In his new role, Kekst will continue to work with clients and mentor the company’s employees, he said in the memo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zachary R. Mider in New York at zmider1@bloomberg.net;

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