Saatchi to be stripped of name

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ONE of the last icons of Thatcher's Britain, the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising name, was toppled yesterday.

At the end of an all-day board meeting on Friday Maurice Saatchi was forced by institutional shareholders to step down as a director. His name, as well as that of his brother, Charles, is to be removed from the master company. It will, however, still adorn the main agency subsidiary.

A contemporary of the brothers, who has followed their careers from the early days commented: "There is a universal perception that Maurice has been foolish. He failed to accept, after the company went public, that the agency was owned by the shareholders, and not by himself. That is the root of his problem, and the reason why he finds himself in the boat he does today."

Even so, he added: "But the two did build a bloody big agency, and their success in the early days was phenomenal."

After the heady 1980s, in which Saatchi was responsible for the Tory election slogan "Labour Isn't Working" and the successful campaign to revive the image of British Airways, the group lost its way in the recession.

Since their high point just before the 1987 stock market crash, the shares have effectively lost 97 per cent of their value.

In March this year there was an open split between Maurice Saatchi as chairman and his chief executive, Charles Scott. Mr Saatchi won that battle, but institutional shareholders began to feel that his time was up.

A spokesman indicated that the new parent company name will not be related to any of the group's subsidiaries, and is likely to be "as anodyne as possible".

Jeremy Sinclair, the deputy chairman, becomes acting chairman pending the appointment of a successor.

At the same time, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the French former chief executive who slashed staff and cut costs at Saatchi after it began to slip, has also resigned as a non-executive director of the company.

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