Walker to return in M&C Saatchi deal

Christine Walker, the former Zenith Media chief executive, has ended months of speculation by confirming that she plans to set up a media joint venture with M&C Saatchi after the notice period on her contract with her former employer expires at the end of this week.

Christine Walker, the former Zenith Media chief executive, has

ended months of speculation by confirming that she plans to set up a

media joint venture with M&C Saatchi after the notice period on her

contract with her former employer expires at the end of this week.



Walker plans to set up a new outfit, provisionally named Walker Media,

which, contrary to speculation, will be a 50:50 joint venture with M&C

Saatchi. It is to open for business in M&C Saatchi’s Golden Square

premises on 1 January but, in compliance with the terms of her contract

with Zenith, she has no staff or clients.



Walker has been on gardening leave for the past year. Her statement came

in the week Zenith served a writ on her in an attempt to enforce further

12-month restrictive covenants on her working with Zenith staff and

clients. A date for a court hearing has been set for mid-November (see

below).



’It is my intention to set up this company when I am free to do so on 25

October,’ Walker told Campaign. ’In the past year I’ve been approached

by a series of people wanting to back me financially. M&C Saatchi’s

approach was upbeat. There was such a strong will from them. In the end

it was a no-brainer. Soon, I can get back to doing what I want to do -

media.’



David Kershaw, the M&C Saatchi co-founder, said: ’Christine’s the only

person we would have considered setting up a media venture with. She’s

the best person in London, and we know we work well together.’



Kershaw was at pains to explain the proposed company would not affect

Optimedia’s media-buying relationship with M&C Saatchi: ’Optimedia will

continue to do an outstanding job on British Airways and remains the

agency’s preferred international partner.’



The New Millennium Experience Company is rumoured to be a likely first

client for the venture. When M&C Saatchi won the account earlier this

year, it was given the power to subcontract media and has not yet made a

public appointment.



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