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Maurice Saatchi leads director exodus at M&C Saatchi amid financial turmoil

Lord Maurice Saatchi has resigned from the agency he co-founded alongside three of his fellow directors, amid a year of profit warnings, lost clients and a “cock-up in the accounts department”.

Lord Michael Dobbs, Sir Michael Peat and Lorna Tilbian all quit the company’s board alongside Saatchi today (10 December).

In a statement to investors, chairman Jeremy Sinclair wrote: "We have accepted the decision of these directors to resign. We are determined to restore the operational performance and profitability of the business and are already implementing all of the recommendations set out in the PwC report we announced last week.

“We had started a process to reconstruct our board with new independent directors. This new board will have a mandate to conduct a full review of all aspects of our governance.”

The advertising company, which has been operating since 2015, issued its second profit warning of the  last week (4 December). NatWest, which contributed a significant chunk of revenue to the agency, had moved its advertising account from M&C Saatchi to The&Partnership the week before.

Meanwhile, August saw PwC discoved a series of historical “misstatements” in the companies accounts, including an "overstated accrued income" of £2.6m. In total, the company was pushed to reaccount for roughly £6.5m on its balance sheet.

The self-declared ‘biggest independent creative agency in the world’ operates in almost 30 markets. Alongside its flagship shop the company also owns the likes of Lida, MCD Partners and The Source.

Chief executive David Kershaw, founding partner Bill Muirhead, chief financial officer Mickey Kalifa and finance director Andy Blackstone are still listed as directors on the firm's Company House page, alongside Sinclair.

Sources told The Drum Kershaw intended to resign but was persusded to remain and steady the ship post-exodus. The Financial Times also reported the chief executive "decided to stay when advised that his exit would be damaging for the company".

None of the former or current directors could be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Featured by The Drum

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