Ad firm M&C Saatchi's shares to be halted on audit delay

(Reuters) - M&C Saatchi SAA.L said on Wednesday trading of its shares would be temporarily suspended from October, after the advertising agency failed to submit audited 2019 results in time due to delays caused by accounting errors revealed last year.

The London-listed firm also said it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs in its portfolio companies in the UK, Brazil, Malaysia and Los Angeles as it tries to ride out the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

M&C Saatchi, founded in 1995 by brothers and ad moguls Maurice and Charles Saatchi after they were ousted from their ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, disclosed in August last year that several units of its UK business overstated income and receivables.

The company said audited results for 2019 would be published “within a matter of weeks” after it missed a Sept. 30 deadline following a three-month extension due to the pandemic.

M&C said unaudited headline pretax profit for last year fell to 18.3 million pounds ($23.5 million) from 23.5 million pounds. However, it said trading so far in 2020 was strong and it was profitable in the second half of this year.

The company’s shares, which fell about 6% in early trading, recouped most of their losses and were 0.7% lower at 57.2 pence by 0800 GMT.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta