Channel 4 exec Al-Qassab to be named next M&C Saatchi chief | Business News


Channel 4’s outgoing marketing chief is the leading candidate to become the next boss of M&C Saatchi Group, the London-listed advertising agency.

Sky News has learnt that Zaid Al-Qassab, whose exit from the state-owned broadcaster was announced last month, is close to agreeing to become M&C Saatchi’s new chief executive.

An advertising industry source said on Wednesday that Mr Al-Qassab had seen off competition from rival candidates in recent weeks, with an announcement possible within days.

Mr Al-Qassab has worked for Channel 4, which recently confirmed plans to cut hundreds of jobs as it grapples with a sharp downturn in ad spending, since 2019.

Prior to that, he worked for BT Group.

If confirmed, Mr Al-Qassab will replace Moray MacLennan, who had worked for M&C since it was founded in 1995 and whose departure was announced last July.

The announcement of his exit came just weeks after Zillah Byng-Thorne, the former boss of The Week’s publisher, Future, joined M&C as chairman.

She has been acting as executive chair since Mr MacLennan left.

M&C is one of the best-known names in Britain’s advertising industry, having been formed by the Saatchi brothers – Maurice and Charles – after they left Saatchi & Saatchi.

The latter firm still carries their name and is owned by Paris-based Publicis Groupe.

M&C has endured a number of challenges in recent years, including financial reporting issues and the exit of other co-founders including David Kershaw and Bill Muirhead.

They recently bought shares in the company in an expression of confidence in Ms Byng-Thorne.

Its businesses extend well beyond traditional advertising, encompassing sports sponsorship broking and activation, digital and social media marketing and talent management.

The agency recently secured one of Britain’s most prominent advertising mandates when it was appointed by the Treasury to create a campaign designed to persuade millions of Britons to buy part of the government’s 36% stake in NatWest Group.

In 2022, M&C was at the centre of a bidding war involving the software entrepreneur Vin Murria and Next Fifteen Communications, another London-listed company.

M&C handles campaigns for scores of blue-chip clients, including Heineken and Barclays.

The government is also already a big client of the group, which produces work for the NHS and a number of Whitehall departments.

On Wednesday, shares in M&C closed at 176p, giving it a market capitalisation of around £217m.

The stock has slipped by 9% over the last year.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment on Wednesday evening.

Read original article here.

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