STOCKHOLM--Kreab Gavin Anderson founder Peje Emilsson has handed over CEO duties to Charlotte Erkhammar, but retains his position as executive chairman of the PR firm.

The move comes one year after Emilsson added global CEO duties following the departure of Richard Constant, the former Gavin Anderson head who led the agency after its 2009 merger with Omnicom sibling Kreab.

Since then, Kreab Gavin Anderson has experienced considerable senior-level turbulence, which has included the exit of regional leaders in the UK, Asia and Japan, culminating in the departure of its Australian management team to Newgate last month.

It is understood that several of these executives left after failing in attempts to complete management buyouts. In addition to Australia, Newgate has also hired former Kreab Gavin Anderson heads in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore.

Emilsson confirmed the CEO shift, which was first reported by Dagens Opinion last week.

He told the Holmes Report that Erkhammar's ascension from vice-chairman represents a "return to normal". Erkhammar previously served as CEO of Kreab prior to the 2009 merger.

"Charlotte was a very successful CEO of the Kreab group for five to six years until we merged in 2009," said Emilsson. "Now that she is back to CEO it is back to normal. I am working more than ever."

Emilsson also said that the group is focusing on further geographic expansion after replacing all of the departed executives, which have included Brian Tyson and Felicity Allen in Australia; Fergus Wylie in the UK; Deborah Hayden in Japan, Richard Barton in Hong Kong; and, Terence Foo in Singapore.

"It was time for a number of people to do something else" said Emilsson. "So we are expanding now in Latin America. The merger is complete - Kreab Gavin Anderson is double the size it was when we merged."

In Australia, the new management team is lead by managing partner Armon Hicks, an agency veteran who took charge earlier this year.

Erkhammar told Dagens Opinion that the new role offered an "amazing opportunity to run and develop 500 global client cases with the help of 400 professionals in 25 countries."

Kreab Gavin Anderson remains 53 percent owned by Emilsson's Magnora group, with the minority balance held by Omnicom Group. Because of that majority control, Emilsson said he expected minimal disruption from Omnicom's proposed merger with Publicis Groupe.