M&C Saatchi in spotlight again over South Africa claims

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Both M&C Saatchi and its predecessor Saatchi & Saatchi under the brothers have sought and enjoyed the spotlight.

When things are going for you it’s great, the path to fame and fortune. When it’s not…

The London-listed ad group is already wrestling with an accounting black hole – last computed at £11.6m and a string of non=executive and senior management departures (the latest being CSO Racquel Chicourel) – and now the UK’s Sunday Times thinks it has unearthed evidence of over-billing in M&C’s 50 per cent owned South Africa agency Creative Spark on client Medscheme. Creative Spark says this was an attempt to de-stabilise the client and MedScheme has reappointed it.

Agency remuneration is one of those things that, arguably, can’t stand too much scrutiny. In 2005 WPP’s Ogilvy was found to have over-billed a US drug agency which resulted in Shona Seifert (the wife of CEO John) being fined and sentenced to 18 months in prison. In 2011 Neo@Ogilvy was accused of over-billing IBM.

The Sunday Times article was illustrated by a picture of M&C International CEO Moray MacLennan propping up a bar (actually from the FT’s How To Spend It feature describing his favourite dining “bolt holes.”) You win a few…

M&C shares were heading south again this morning after a minor recovery last week.

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