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M&C Saatchi founders step down as company enters ‘next chapter’ after accounting woes

M&C Saatchi founders step down as company enters ‘next chapter’ after accounting woes

M&C Saatchi is installing a new leadership team as it seeks to move on from an accounting scandal which has dogged the company over the last year.

The major shakeup of the agency group's board will see three of its co-founders – executive chairman Jeremy Sinclair; chief executive officer David Kershaw and executive director Bill Muirhead – leave the business.

In their place, Gareth Davis, currently non-executive deputy chairman, will become independent non-executive chairman and Moray McLennan, currently chief exec worldwide, will step up as chief executive and present a new growth strategy in January.

What has been going on at M&C Saatchi?

  • A break with the past sees M&C Saatchi announce a succession plan, with new leadership seeking to draw a line under an accounting scandal which drags on today in the form of delayed 2019 financial results.

  • The reset began in the first quarter with the appointment of four independent non-executive directors to the board.

  • M&C Saatchi has also appointed a new finance team, updated its accounting systems and compliance rules and simplified its group structure to prevent a repeat of the fiasco.

  • Despite its well-publicised reporting problems and broader economic uncertainty, M&C Saatchi reported a profit in 2020.

Who is in and who is out?

  • Now executive chairman, Jeremy Sinclair; chief executive officer David Kershaw and executive director Bill Muirhead have all given notice of their pending departure to make way for new leadership.

  • In a joint statement, the trio said: "We have spent this last year replacing ourselves, re-examining the strategy and importantly re-building the board. That having been done, it is time for us to make a graceful exit, although we plan to remain shareholders."

  • Following the publication of the delayed 2019 audited results, Sinclair will pass on the baton to non-executive deputy chairman Gareth Davis who will step up as independent non-executive chairman.

  • He will be joined by Moray MacLennan, current chief exec worldwide, who will succeed Kershaw as executive director by the end of the year.

  • Last to go will be Muirhead, with an expected departure from the board set for March 2021.

  • Davis and McLennan will sit alongside Mickey Kalifa, chief financial officer; Lisa Gordon, senior independent director and independent non-executive directors Louise Jackson and Colin Jones.

What progress has been made toward publishing 2019's financial results?

  • On 1 October trading in M&C Saatchi shares was suspended following delays to the publication of audited results for the 2019 financial year.

  • The company now states that the delayed report will be available 'imminently', enabling trading to resume.

  • In a statement, Davis said: "We have navigated our way through our recent problems and the enduring strength of the business, founded and developed by Jeremy, David and Bill, will serve us well in the future."

  • MacLennan added: "Much has been learnt over the past 12 months and I believe M&C Saatchi is stronger and wiser coming out of 2020.

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