Sir Martin’s Sorrell’s S4 Capital has begun an ambitious £100 million ($A180 million) share raising drive in the hope of adding new acquisitions to the company’s burgeoning range of global agencies.
Fresh from acquring Australian digital strategy and analytics consultancy Lens10 two weeks ago, S4Capital has raised the extra cash through the issue of 36.8 million shares at £3.15 each.
Sorrell declared the extra monies would give S4 added “flexibility and firepower”.
As an aside, there’s also been reports in UK media that former MediaCom global CEO Steve Allen – who quit his post in May – has been linked with a move to S4. However, that, at this stage, remains more industy gossip than anything concrete.
Shares in S4Capital were trading 6.4 per cent higher at £3.35 on the announcement of the share raising, giving the business a market capitalisation of £1.64 billion.
Sorrell commented: “In line with our mantra of ‘faster, better, cheaper’, now is not the time to slow down. We believe that it is precisely the time to quicken the development of our capabilities around digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic.
“We have a great team in place, as good as I have seen anywhere, eager to create new and exciting ideas for our clients. We, therefore, want to ensure that the company has the necessary flexibility to capitalise on opportunities as they arise,” the 75-year-old ad surpremo said.
The company added that present CV-19 trading was okay in the crisis with May YOY gross profit up five per cent and gross profit up over 12 per cent, while cash reserves remain in positive territory. However, it is reporting that April will be the lowest point of the year.
So, with Sorrell back on the takeover trail, what exactly would he target?
He’s long said that GroupM is the only part of the WPP business he’d be interested in. And that certainly brings the Steve Allen rumours into play. It would also be the prize scalp of his former employer.
However, with a reported price tag of around $US15 billion, GroupM seems a long way off S4’s shopping list.
That would certainly bring a creative agency into play but again, since Sorrell was moved on from WPP, he’s decried most creative agencies as being too “old school” and headed by overpaid ECDs heavily vested in old school media.
Last month Sorrell telling B&T’s Cannes UnCanned that he didn’t want to go back to the “Don Draper era of media”.
“Our industry has been stimulated by the era of data. Lots of people in this industry look back to the era of Don Draper with rose-tinted spectacles and recall these creative days,” Sorrell said.
“And there’s still great work today and it’s often done with data. Industries in the US, the UK and the south of France tend to forget that there’s great creativity coming out of places they choose to forget, like Latin America. It’s a combination of great creative talent and very strong technological talent too. You need to look at data as an enabler, it will give you insights that will make creative even more powerful,” the wily veteran declared.
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