Vin Murria’s final offer for M&C Saatchi rejected by shareholders
Nine-month-long push to acquire British indie agency failed to gain enough backers.
One of the competing bids to buy M&C Saatchi has been rejected
AdvancedAdvTV, the investment vehicle chaired by British tech entrepreneur Vin Murria, had until 1pm today (September 30) to gather the support of M&C Saatchi shareholders by putting in place agreements to buy their shares in the company and the associated voting rights.
By the deadline, however, its existing holdings (25.6%) plus secured agreements only amounted to 35.4% of M&C Saatchi shares – considerably short of the number required to instigate a takeover. The offer has now formally lapsed.
In a statement, ADV said: ”The final offer was potentially beneficial to all M&C Saatchi and ADV stakeholders, introducing new cash to fuel accelerated growth and investment at a notable premium to the M&C Saatchi share price.
”The directors believe that the final offer had greater potential than both Next Fifteen’s final offer and the status quo to deliver faster growth and significant value creation for all shareholders and employees.”
Murria previously outlined plans to put M&C at the center of a new digital marketing empire fueled by acquisitions, in the same mold as Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital. But M&C’s 18-member board repeatedly rejected both her plans and her price; in June, it published a 48-page rebuttal complete with a redesigned version of a famous Tory attack ad its predecessor agency Saatchi & Saatchi created for the 1992 general election.
Though Murria and her backers – a collection of investment funds – won’t be able to mount another takeover bid for the company, the acquisition battle isn’t yet over.
M&C shareholders must still formally choose whether or not to back the rival proposal of Next Fifteen, the agency group that this year acquired Engine. The agency’s board members previously backed that deal but later pulled their recommendation when Next Fifteen’s share price fell.
Though M&C’s own financial performance has held up this year, Next Fifteen recorded millions in losses in its half-year results last week. However, its plan for the company (should an acquisition go ahead) promised the benefits of scale within a larger group, while keeping the M&C brand a distinct entity – a far more laissez-faire approach than Murria’s and less likely to spook its shareholders.
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Whichever way that bid goes, M&C Saatchi will still have to deal with the presence of Murria. Despite her ejection from its board over the summer, her bloc still owns a major chunk of the company – potentially complicating its future.
ADV’s statement reflected this ongoing state of affairs: ”ADV’s position, as a significant shareholder in M&C Saatchi, remains focused on unlocking all potential value creation opportunities for its shareholders. ADV believes changes are still required in order to unlock and accelerate the realization of the wider potential of the M&C Saatchi business and people. ADV continues to rate, and hold in high regard, both the M&C Saatchi business and its people.
”ADV has £104m of cash and will continue to proactively seek opportunities to invest in companies that are positioned to take advantage of the structural changes arising from the acceleration of digitalization and the macro environment.”