OUTLOOK: Several losers at Saatchi

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The Independent Online
The shake-out at Saatchi & Saatchi claimed another victim yesterday when former chief executive Robert Louis-Dreyfus resigned as a non-executive, saying the business was taking too much of his time, which could be better spent at his main job runn ing Adidas.

Predictably, however, the much predicted defection of clients didn't happen. The executive directors who met again yesterday to review events will now hope that Christmas brings them some peace and quiet if not actual goodwill.

The rest of us are left to ponder the lessons of the past few weeks. The man whose reputation is most enhanced must be David Herro of Harris Associates in Chicago who actually said what many if not most other shareholders were evidently thinking, and questioned why Maurice Saatchi should scoop the rewards of a recovery in profits he had done little to inspire. It is a salutary lesson executives in other companies enjoying over-generous remuneration packages would be wise to learn. British institutionalshareholders could also take a leaf out of Mr Herro's book. There are lessons too for the corporate governance reformers preparing Cadbury Mark Two Maurice Saatchi stands to lose most He has made his mark on the advertising industry and he still has many admirers. But he has lost the opportunity to bow out at the very top. At 48, it will be hard for him to start again in an industry where youth has been a cult verging on an obsession.

The other potential loser must be Sir Peter Walters, the non-executive director who headed the remuneration committee, which devised the offending option package for Mr Saatchi. It is hard to see how Sir Peter, whose reputation as a top industrialist is well earned, could so have misjudged the situation. The usual refuge of the non executive director - nothing to do with me guv - is certainly closed to him in this case.

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