The American billionaire Warren Buffett came remarkably close to buying WPP, its former boss, Sir Martin Sorrell, has revealed.
According to Sorrell, both he and Buffett discussed a possible sale of the world’s biggest media business back in 2012, however, nothing eventuated after the two couldn’t agree on a final price.
Sorrell made the revelation at a talk for British industry publication Campaign on Friday, adding that Buffett was very keen for his Berkshire Hathaway business to acquire the global network.
“We had a brief conversation and he’s very shrewd. He cuts to the quick. He’s very fixed in terms of price and the premium he offered was not sufficient,” Sorrell said.
“It was about 15 per cent, maybe a little bit more. The average premium was 30 per cent, and we couldn’t encourage him to go to 30. I would’ve loved to have done that if it had been at the right price.”
According to Sorell Buffett offered 925p a share, higher than the present WPP share price.
In an apparent dig at his departure from WPP in April, Sorrell then added: “The best form of revenge would be building a significant and successful new-era, new-format, new-approach agency.”
Sorrell’s other WPP revelations
WPP’s former chief executive shared some other big revelations at the Campaign event.
One was that the name of the newly merged Y&R and VML entity was originally slated as Y&RVML, instead of VMLY&R.
Sorrell claimed that the blueprint for the merged entity was already being drawn up while he was still CEO of WPP, and it also included a third agency network called Geometry.
“I would have called it Y&RVML. I would have been a little more magnanimous to the leadership of Y&R,” he said.
Another revelation Sorrell made was that WPP didn’t follow the succession plan in place following his departure, claiming that Mark Read and Andrew Scott were supposed to be appointed as co-CEOs, instead of just Read.