Three of M&C Saatchi’s founders are stepping down following a long-running accounting scandal that has sent shockwaves through adland.
Jeremy Sinclair, David Kershaw and Bill Muirhead, who set up the company when they split from Saatchi & Saatchi in 1995, will hand over the reins in a bid to draw a line under the saga.
The departure of the executives, known as the “three amigos”, comes after a dramatic accounting scandal that saw M&C Saatchi’s share price plunge and has already led to the departure of founder Maurice Saatchi and three independent directors.
The company’s shares have since been suspended after it missed the deadline to file its 2019 annual results.
Kershaw will now be replaced as chief executive by Moray MacLennan, who currently leads the firm’s international operations. Gareth Davis, former Imperial Tobacco boss, will take over from Sinclair as executive chairman.
The boardroom shake-up marks M&C Saatchi’s efforts to turn a corner after the saga, which saw it overstate profits by £14m in accounting irregularities dating back to 2014.
This prompted the resignation of Lord Saatchi, as well as non-executives Lord Dobbs, who wrote the House of Cards trilogy, Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’ former private secretary, and City legend Lorna Tilbian.
But the three amigos, who were known for their work on the infamous ‘Labour isn’t working’ ad campaign for the Tory party, had previously resisted calls for them to resign.
“We are immensely proud of the company and all the people and all the clients who have allowed us to do some great work,” they said in a statement.
“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.”
The exodus heralds a new era for the adland stalwart, which posted a 60 per cent decline in pre-tax profit for the first six months of this year.
“Much has been learnt over the past 12 months and I believe M&C Saatchi is stronger and wiser coming out of 2020,” said incoming boss MacLennan.