Qantas bails out

Qantas, the Australian airline that is 25 per cent owned by British Airways, yesterday confirmed it would move its £40m advertising account from Saatchi & Saatchi to New Saatchi, following BA's decision to do the same earlier this week.

New Saatchi, set up by Maurice Saatchi following his ousting from Saatchi & Saatchi last year, has now taken five big accounts away from his old firm, where the holding company is now renamed Cordiant. In addition to BA and Qantas, Gallaher, the tobacco company, Mirror Group and Dixons, the retail group, have all jumped to New Saatchi.

A Cordiant spokesman said the BA account had been worth about 1 per cent of the holding company's £700m in revenues last year. According to Campaign, the trade weekly, the BA account is worth about £80m in annual billings.

Staff numbers at New Saatchi's office in London are to increase from 40 to 70, and several members of the BA team at Saatchi & Saatchi are expected to move. Additional staff are also expected to be hired at Publicis, the international agency network with which New Saatchi has an alliance.

Legal manoeuvring between Cordiant and principals of New Saatchi is scheduled to resume in June.