M&C Saatchi looks to Future as Byng-Thorne arrives as chair

Business

M&C Saatchi, the London-listed advertising agency group, has lured one of Britain’s top media executives as its next chair.

Sky News has learnt that Zillah Byng-Thorne, the outgoing boss of The Week’s publisher, Future, has agreed to replace Gareth Davis.

City sources said an announcement confirming Mrs Byng-Thorne’s departure was likely to be made in the coming days.

Her recruitment is likely to be regarded as a coup by investors.

During her tenure at Future, she oversaw rapid growth in its earnings and share price, transforming it from an ‘old media’ magazine publisher into a digitally-led group.

Mrs Byng-Thorne has also agreed to take over as chairman of Trustpilot, the online reviews platform.

As part of a broader shake-up of M&C’s board, Chris Sweetland, a former WPP Group finance executive, is expected to join as a director representing Vin Murria and AdvancedAdvT, the company’s biggest shareholder.

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Lisa Gordon, the agency’s senior independent director, is expected to step down from the board in the next few months.

Read more:
M&C Saatchi suitor AdvancedAdvT sweetens bid with cash
Finance chief in talks to quit M&C Saatchi as it fends off takeover bid

The boardroom overhaul follows a turbulent period for M&C, which was last year at the centre of a bidding war involving both Ms Murria and Next Fifteen Communications, another London-listed company.

M&C handles advertising, direct marketing, public relations and sponsorship campaigns for scores of blue-chip clients, including Heineken and Barclays.

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

Under the leadership of Moray MacLennan, M&C has returned to growth and recently reported record annual revenues and profits.

On Thursday, shares in M&C were trading at around 186p, giving it a market capitalisation of around £230m.

A spokesman for M&C declined to comment.

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