Saatchi will have to fire me, Charles tells friends

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The Independent Online
Charles Saatchi has told close friends that the only way he would leave the Saatchi & Saatchi agency he founded with his younger brother, Maurice, would be if he was fired.

"He is going to do what his contract requires him to do, and that is mainly to work on the Silk Cut adverts for Gallagher," said one of the friends who spoke to him at his home in London.

A showdown between Charles Saatchi and the company, where he is honorary life president after losing his executive role last year, is seen as inevitable. The company is keen to question him about whether he was involved in the removal of filing cabinets containing confidential files. His future was one of several items on the agenda for yesterday's emergency board meeting, which started at 4pm and went on late into the night.

The company said it would make a statement today. There is speculation that a new chairman will be named - the shortlist is said to include Peter Davis, former chairman of Reed Elsevier, the media group.

Maurice Saatchi, who was fired as chairman in December, said yesterday that his lawyers at Watson, Farley & Williams were preparing a case to sue Saatchi & Saatchi's directors for breach of contract. A writ is expected to be issued today.

The company is close to going to the High Court to try to obtain restraining injunctions on Maurice Saatchi and other executives who have resigned and plan to join his New Saatchi Agency. Mr Saatchi's business plans are understood to involve forming a joint venture with a US firm in an attempt to elevate his new agency to global status.

Saatchi & Saatchi's board meeting yesterday also discussed changing the company's holding name, a proposal first put forward last year, but vigorously resisted by Maurice Saatchi, by Suzanna Taverne, a management consultant and former finance director ofthe Independent. Any name change would require shareholders' approval - a vote that the Saatchi brothers, unless they acted as proxies for other investors, can take part in because they sold their entire 1.7 million shares a fortnight ago.

According to the company, his anger at the name change proposal resulted in his confronting Ms Taverne, whom he hired personally, and instructing her not to mention it when she briefed the board.

A company spokesman said yesterday: "Anybody who read her report would have seen that there was something missing from it. He tried to suppress it. In her initial presentation there were slides on the name change, but they were not in her presentation

to the board."

Saatchi appears to be winning over investors. The shares, up at 155p before Maurice Saatchi was ousted and as low as 96p last week, gained 9p to 111p .