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Penguin names Davidar's replacement Add to ...

London-based Penguin Group named a new executive on Tuesday to replace fired CEO David Davidar as president of Penguin International, a division created last year to build the brand globally.

Penguin Group CEO John Makinson announced that Andrew Phillips, current deputy CEO of Penguin subsidiary DK, will take over Mr. Davidar's role as one of the company's "four regional CEOs around the world."

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Unlike Davidar, an Indian who was based in Toronto, Mr. Phillips is a Westerner who will be based in Delhi, responsible for managing the brand in India, Africa and the Middle East. Prior to joining DK, best known for its innovative Eyewitness series, Mr. Phillips was an executive at video-game giant Electronic Arts.

In addition to being CEO of Penguin International, Mr. Davidar headed the company's Canadian division in Toronto. So the appointment leaves an empty corner office at the embattled headquarters, a vacancy compounded by the imminent departure of Penguin Canada publisher Nicole Winstanley on maternity leave. "We expect to make an announcement on the Canadian front very soon," company spokesman Yvonne Hunter said Tuesday morning.

On that front, industry rumours of potential replacements for Mr. Davidar centre on two veterans of the Canadian industry: Doug Pepper, current president of McClelland & Stewart, and Simon & Schuster Canada president Kevin Hanson. Mr. Pepper, who describes himself as a "very, very good friend" of Mr. Davidar and published two of his novels, declined to comment on the matter when reached in his office Tuesday.

In the absence of hard information - and in light of the sexual-harassment accusations that brought Mr. Davidar down - the hunt for his replacement has raised difficult questions in an industry dominated by women but run by men. Some female executives sympathetic with the two women who complained about Mr. Davidar see evidence of an old boy's club in the exclusively male list of potential new presidents.

"I think it's very sad," House of Anansi publisher Sarah MacLachlan "The power politics of it is that men still run the companies.… I would guess that things like sexual harassment will come to the fore if men insist on using their power in these kinds of ways."

Other observers see the sex scandal as an almost welcome explanation for corporate turmoil that remained inexplicable until former employee Lisa Rundle sued Penguin and Mr. Davidar, forcing the two to admit the president was fired for sexual harassment. Initial speculation was that the semiautonomous Canadian division would be reduced to a U.S. branch plant in Mr. Davidar's absence.

"I'm very hopeful," former Penguin publisher Cynthia Good said in an interview. "It's very hard for me to believe Penguin would expect Canada to report directly to the U.S."

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