Matthew Freud Takes Stake in M&C Saatchi

PR Guru Becomes Biggest Shareholder Aside From Founders

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LONDON ( -- PR legend Matthew Freud has taken a 3.3% stake in M&C Saatchi, making him the biggest shareholder outside the four founders, each of whom owns 6.44%.

Mr. Freud's investment of about $800,000 for 2 million shares was made in a personal capacity and not through his public-relations company, Freud Communications, which is 50.1% owned by Publicis.

M&C Saatchi was founded by Maurice and Charles Saatchi in the mid-'90s after the brothers were ousted from Saatchi & Saatchi. Mr. Freud bought the shares when they reached a record low of 36 cents on Feb. 11. They have since risen 21% to 43 cents.

Charles Saatchi, who is now best known as an art collector and the husband of domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, sold his 7% stake in 2006. Maurice Saatchi remains an executive director and is still involved with the agency.

Mr. Freud, who is married to Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, made $20 million from the sale of 50.1% of his company to Publicis in 2005. This is not his first tie-up with an ad agency; in 2007 Freud Communications bought London agency Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters.

Freud Communications is currently working with M&C Saatchi on a government anti-obesity campaign. Other clients include Walmart-owned Asda, the London 2012 Olympics, KFC, Pizza Hut, Sony, Volkswagen, Sky, Nike, Pepsi, American Express and Paramount Pictures.

M&C Saatchi has 17 offices around the world, including one in New York and one in Los Angeles, and opened a new one in Geneva only last week. The agency's clients include NatWest band, Hyundai, the U.K. Department of Health, Qantas and Transport for London.

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