Throwing the bookies at Saatchi

With six weeks still to go before the pitch for British Airways’ ú60m account, Ladbrokes reports that betting on the four-horse race is hotting up.

With six weeks still to go before the pitch for British Airways’ ú60m account, Ladbrokes reports that betting on the four-horse race is hotting up. The account, dubbed “the most important of the year”, will be the first big test of the strength of Maurice Saatchi’s new outfit.

The New Saatchi Agency has been installed as favourite but the other three candidates are still in there with a shout – at least at the bookies.

Many believe the pitch is just a public performance before Maurice is handed the account.

But the man who drew up the odds, Paul Austin, says he “took advice from certain people” before setting the odds. He refuses to reveal his confidants but says he was inspired to offer the bet after watching the midnight news on the day BA released its list of Saatchi old, Saatchi new, J Walter Thompson and Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Meanwhile, there are signs that betting fever is catching. Unofficial books have also been opened on who will be the next senior Saatchi player to jump ship. Who will be the next Saatchi chairman in London? And which one of the defectors will be first to quit the new venture? Place your bets.

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