Saatchi to defuse 'buyout'

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The Independent Online
SAATCHI & Saatchi is expected to try to allay investors' fears that the group may be broken up by denying the core advertising business is being sold to Maurice and Charles Saatchi, who founded the group 23 years ago.

It is understood that the company will attempt to suppress speculation of a boardroom split in the wake of the recent pressure by institutional investors to remove Charles from the board.

A statement may be released this week through the Stock Exchange, countering weekend press reports that the brothers were prepared to personally fund pounds 10m of the perceived pounds 200m cost of buying out Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising.

'It is a speculative story, and it is a matter of policy that we do not comment,' the company said yesterday. 'However, it is worth reminding people that, at the time of the rights issue in the spring, the group said its strategy was built around enhancing the performance of its two core businesses - Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and Backer Spielvogel Bates.'

Neither Charles Saatchi, who stepped down as a director after an acrimonious board meeting 10 days ago, nor Maurice, who is chairman, was available for comment.

Charles will continue to work for the company in a creative role and as its first honorary president. The brothers own 2 per cent of the group.