BETTORS FAVOR NEW SAATCHI IN BA REVIEW

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LONDON-The twists and turns of the Saatchi drama have so captivated this city that Britain's largest bookmaker is taking bets on the winner of the British Airways account. The $135 million in ad business, now at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, went up for review after co-founder Maurice Saatchi was ousted in December.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes, a betting agency with nearly 2,000 shops around the country, said this is the first time the bookmaker has wagered on who will win an ad account.

"It is going to be very high-profile in the media, and that is what has prompted it," he said.

Mr. Saatchi's New Saatchi Agency is the favorite at 10-11 odds. At those odds, if Mr. Saatchi gets the business, someone betting about $17 would receive about $32 back, including his original investment. J. Walter Thompson Co. is in second place with odds of 2-1. Saatchi and Bartle Bogle Hegarty are long shots at 4-1 and 6-1, respectively.

"Each of the other agencies [ JWT and Bartle] is attracting its supporters," the spokesman said. "Not one of them hasn't had a bet on them so far."

The odds offered when betting began Jan. 25 were based on "our own interpretation of the situation" from media reports and talking to people in the advertising industry, the spokesman said.

Most Ladbrokes' business comes from sports, but it does take unusual bets-like on the existence of alien life and whether it will snow on Christmas.

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