M&C Saatchi chairman: We won't betray company by selling

Writing in Telegraph, Jeremy Sinclair said existing management won't sell or abandon ship.

M&C Saatchi founders: (clockwise from top left) Saatchi, Kershaw, Sinclair and Muirhead
M&C Saatchi founders: (clockwise from top left) Saatchi, Kershaw, Sinclair and Muirhead

Jeremy Sinclair, M&C Saatchi's chairman, has said that the existing management team will not "abandon" or sell the business following the agency's accounting woes. 

Writing in The Telegraph in an attempt to stem the flow of speculation about M&C Saatchi's future over the weekend, Sinclair said: "We are left holding our baby, nursing her back to health. Defying suggestions of abandoning her – or worse, selling her off. We couldn’t betray the company, not for anything."

It follows last week's departure of co-founder Maurice Saatchi along with the three non-executive directors – Sir Michael Peat, Lorna Tilbian and Michael Dobbs.

Campaign understands that the non-executive directors wanted Sinclair to make way for an independent chairman and they also pushed for a co-CEO to work alongside David Kershaw, the chief executive.

In a resignation letter first reported by The Sunday Times this weekend signed by Peat, Tilbian and Dobbs, the trio accused management of "backtracking" on a promise to hold an independent investigation into the accounting crisis and said "changes should be made to the board and executive management in the short term".

Sinclair and Kershaw have stayed in post on the advice of the company's external advisers, including corporate broker Numis Securities, which said the board should wait until auditors from PwC complete an on-going investigation.

M&C Saatchi’s share price, which was near £4 in March, fell as much as three-quarters this year, dropping to 79p earlier this month when the company admitted that its accounting "misstatements" that first came to light in August were worse than expected. Shares today had recovered slightly to 111p.

According to the Financial Times, the Financial Conduct Authority requested information related to the accounting errors last week – something that the ad agency complied with. The newspaper said the request did not constitute a formal investigation.

Following the exit of the four directors last week, Moray MacLennan, worldwide chief executive of M&C Saatchi, moved to reassure staff and clients that the underlying business is "sound" and that the agency will "emerge stronger".