LONDON (Reuters) -Advertising giant WPP said finance director, John Rogers, would step down next year to be succeeded by Joanne Wilson, who has previously held senior roles at drinks company Britvic and Tesco's data arm.
Rogers, in the role for three years, steered the world's biggest advertising company through the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of its new strategy to help clients develop digital operations and e-commerce channels.
Analysts at Citi described the announcement as a big surprise, with Rogers "well liked and respected by investors", but it said the lengthy handover and the calibre of Wilson should reassure shareholders.
WPP said Wilson would join in the first half of 2023, with Rogers remaining available until later next year.
"With WPP well positioned for ongoing success, and as the company enters the next phase of its transformation, I feel now is the right time to move on to new challenges and to begin a smooth transition to a new CFO," Rogers said.
Wilson joined Britvic in 2019 from Dunnhumby, the data arm of British retailer Tesco.
She will move to a company employing 109,000 people in 110 countries. While it has made good progress in adopting a new strategy to deepen its ties with customers, it has been hit by fears of an advertising slowdown at major tech companies.
Shares in the group were up 0.8%, giving it a market valuation of 8.7 billion pounds ($9.98 billion).
($1 = 0.8713 pounds)
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by James Davey and Paul Sandle)