Saatchi & Saatchi Co. sued ousted co-founder Maurice Saatchi on Thursday as it tried to combat a crisis that devastated the advertising company's stock price and sent executives and clients packing.
The huge ad concern accused Saatchi and three other former company executives of "a conspiracy to injure the business of the group."
Saatchi & Saatchi was apparently attempting to thwart Maurice Saatchi's bid to set up a rival ad agency with three colleagues--Jeremy Sinclair, David Kershaw and Bill Muirhead.
The three left the company Monday in one of many shocks that has pushed the company's share price down by nearly a third this week.
The action in the High Court attempts to block Sinclair, Kershaw and Muirhead "from joining a competing business, soliciting or working for clients of Saatchi & Saatchi in a competing business."
Maurice Saatchi's camp predicted the executives can find ways to overcome restrictions in their employment contracts that prohibit them from taking away Saatchi & Saatchi clients.
The court battle came 24 hours after Maurice Saatchi announced his plans to challenge Saatchi & Saatchi with a new company tentatively called the New Saatchi Agency.
Whatever happens, the bitter fight between Maurice Saatchi and his old firm has become a soap opera that shows no signs of letting up.
Saatchi & Saatchi shares plunged 25 cents to a 52-week low of $4.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.