M&C Saatchi raids Burnett for debut of Paris office

LONDON - M&C Saatchi has signed a trio of managers from Leo Burnett in Paris to form the nucleus of its first European start-up.

Gilles Masson, the president of the Burnett office in the French capital, is setting up the venture along with his two co-creative directors, Antoine Barthuel and Daniel Fohr.

The new agency will be called M&C Saatchi GAD and will open in September, once the founders are free of their contractual obligations.

The delay means they will play no part in this week's pitch for France Telecom's £80m Wanadoo pan-European creative account, which M&C Saatchi is contesting alongside BBDO.

News of the start-up comes 10 months after M&C Saatchi floated on the London Stock Exchange, partly to raise funds to bankroll its European expansion. It plans to have agencies in Spain and Germany by next year. It is believed Masson, Barthuel and Fohr will share about 20 per cent of the agency's equity.

Nick Hurrell, the chairman of M&C Saatchi Europe, said the group selected France as its European bridgehead because it was ripe for exploitation. "Because our business is about taking share, we felt it would be a good idea to move into a market that has seen little innovation in terms of agency brands," he said.

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