Barclays Eyes Venables, Eleven

Using a tag-team strategy, Venables, Bell & Partners and Eleven appear to have the inside track in the race for the Barclays Global Investors business, an account worth roughly $10-20 million, sources said.

The San Francisco tandem was scheduled to make a final presentation last week, competing against crosstown shop TBWA\Chiat\Day. However, the latter withdrew from the pitch because of unspe cified differences with the client. Details were not immediately available.

Barclays was expected to make a quick decision following the final pitches, sources said. The company has been reviewing agencies since June.

“We could know something really soon,” said a source at the client.

Should they get the business, Venables is expected to provide brand strategy and creative work, with Eleven focusing on interactive, sources said. Executives at both agencies could not be reached for comment.

The win would be a major pickup for Venables, which was launched in May in a San Francisco ad landscape littered with layoffs and agency closings. The shop also has the $50 million business of Ultimate TV, which pulled its account out of Foote, Cone & Belding in the spring.

Barclays was formerly handled by Saatchi & Saatchi, San Fran cisco, which closed recently due to market difficulties. Sources said New York-based Saatchi did not aggressively try to keep the business, focusing instead on keeping larger accounts such as Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice deodorant.

Saatchi’s most recent work for Barclays included three TV spots and accompanying print ads for iShares, which allow investors to buy into numerous exchange-traded index funds. The company says the shares offer a way to play the stock market and also have the reliability of an index mutual fund.

Both Venables and Eleven were founded by veterans of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Fran cisco. The former is headed by Paul Venables and Greg Bell; the latter by Rob Price and Paul Curtin.