November 14, 2009 2:00 am

Whitehead Mann head departs after US merger

Piers Marmion, chairman of London-based headhunter Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann's Europe, Middle East and Africa unit, has left five months after a takeover by the US group Korn/Ferry International.

Whitehead Mann handled a series of key City hirings this year, including the newest board members at Royal Bank of Scotland as well as its chairman, Sir Philip Hampton.

It is the latest in a series of departures in recent weeks since the merger, which includes the loss of Sarah David, Whitehead Mann chief operating officer, who left at the same time as Mr Marmion. As Whitehead Mann chief executive, Mr Marmion led the merger talks and was named as Korn/Ferry chairman of EMEA in June.

In July, Korn/Ferry appointed as EMEA president the Zurich-based Bernard Zen-Ruffinen, who joined the group after nine years at Heidrick and Struggles, where he was head of the European chief executive and board practice.

The two men worked together at Heidrick and Struggles, where Mr Marmion was chief executive until 2003. Mr Marmion left the lossmaking group with a severance package worth $4m for his 18-month stint, including $650,000 in salary and bonus and $3.4m (£2m) in severance.

He then embarked on the buy-out of Whitehead Mann, backed by hedge fund Och-Ziff, which was completed in September 2006. The firm has not recorded a profit since then after embarking on expansion plans.

Earlier this year it also suffered the departure of leading headhunter Carol Leonard, who has started a new firm, the Inzito Partnership. She is credited with recruiting Prudential chairman, Harvey McGrath, Invensys chairman Sir Nigel Rudd and directors on the board of Lloyds.

The US-listed Korn/Ferry International in September appointed British Airways director Lady Kingsmill to its board as the only non-US director.

The terms of the deal to buy Whitehead Mann were not disclosed but those involved with investors said it was about £7.6m.

The most senior board practice recruiters that remain are Jonathan Baines, who is hiring non-executive directors for the Financial Services Authority, as well as experienced former UBS banker Oliver Pawle. They were also involved in the recruitment of Sir David Lees as chairman of the Bank of England and John Stewart as a Bank director, and Mr Pawle recruited Paul Lee as chairman of the Levy Board.

Its annual board and chief executive reception at Lancaster House this week - its first since the deal - drew a wide range of City figuresincluding Lloyds chairman Sir Win Bischoff.

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