M&C Saatchi plans expansion into Europe

M&C Saatchi is preparing to extend its operations into mainland Europe by setting up offices in four markets by the end of the year.

The agency said this week that it was talking to clients and new-business prospects about the possibility of putting assignments into the expanded network, which will include offices in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

But Bill Muirhead, one of the agency's founding partners and the leader of the initiative, insisted it would be nothing like the then Saatchi & Saatchi Group's acquisition programme in the 80s.

"The start-ups will reflect our founding principles," he said. "That means not piling up debt and not paying a penny for goodwill. People still come to us in the belief that we have suitcases full of money but we don't do things that way any more."

The agency claimed it would have moved into Europe sooner had it not been for the economic downturn across the continent made worse by the 11 September attacks.

Senior executives see the operation as being similar to Wieden & Kennedy, offering clients creative potency without being owned by a communications supergroup.

M&C Saatchi has offices in the US, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai.

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