M&C Saatchi Sells 30% of London Agency to Management Team

Move Is a Bid to Inject Entrepreneurial Spirit Back into the Shop

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(From l.) Tim Duffy, Gaby Bell, Tom Bazeley, Tom Firth
(From l.) Tim Duffy, Gaby Bell, Tom Bazeley, Tom Firth Credit: M&C Saatchi

M&C Saatchi Worldwide has sold 30% of its London ad agency to five senior managers, in a deal that values the shop at an estimated $36 million.

The move comes after a difficult couple of years for the agency, with some significant account losses, including electrical retail giant Dixons, a founding client.

Leadership has also been unstable, particularly after the agency bought digital shop Lean Mean Fighting Machine in May 2014 and integrated some of its founders into the management team.

One of the LMFM founders, CEO Tom Bazeley, is part of the group buying into the agency now. The others are incoming ECD Justin Tindall (who announced his departure from Leo Burnett in December), Gaby Bell, the chief strategy officer, managing director Tom Firth, and long-serving chairman, Tim Duffy.

Mr. Duffy said in a statement, "In 2015 we won 17 new clients and lost three, increasing our revenue by 5.2% on 2014. We know that when the management team takes ownership, the agency's performance improves. With the huge personal dedication of our team, who are imbued with a new energy as a result of this deal, I am confident that 2016 will be even more successful and am excited at what the future holds."

The London shop was founded 20 years ago, when brothers Maurice and Charles Saatchi were ousted from their original agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. There are now M&C Saatchi offices in 24 cities worldwide.

The deal brings M&C Saatchi's London office in line with the rest of the network, in terms of ownership. M&C Saatchi's business model is to keep a majority stake in all its offices around the world, with local partners holding a significant minority stake. It has grown globally through acquisition, as with its expansion into Israel last year, and by setting up offices in partnership with entrepreneurs.

It is understood that the deal was funded through a company loan.

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