Cordiant returns to profit

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The Independent Online
Cordiant, the marketing services group rocked by the defection of the founding Saatchi brothers in 1995, yesterday underlined a remarkable financial recovery by paying its first dividend payment to shareholders in seven years and reporting a return to the black.

Shares in Cordiant rose 9.5p to 113.5p, helped by news that Delta, the US airline, had hired Saatchi & Saatchi for its $100m (pounds 63m) account world- wide. "It's our most exciting account win in recent history," said Bob Seelert, Cordiant's chief executive.

The Delta contract is the first big airline account Cordiant has landed since British Airways' advertising business followed the Saatchi brothers out the door during a haemorrhage of clients two years ago.

Pre-tax profits at Cordiant, which still includes advertising agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and Bates Worldwide, hit pounds 41.8m in 1996 after a loss of pounds 22.6m the year before. The US made a trading profit of pounds 17m after a pounds 16.5m loss the year before, but Europe was hit by the loss of several large clients, including Reckitt & Colman and the Fuji film account, which had to be resigned after Cordiant's US operation won the rival Kodak contract world-wide.

Investment column, page 22