The ever-restless PR maven Matthew Freud, Rupert Murdoch’s son in law through his marriage to production company owner Elizabeth Murdoch, has bought back the 50.1 per cent of his company he sold to Publicis Groupe in 2005 in a deal that valued the whole of Freud Communications at £45m.
This is the second time Freud has escaped the (lucrative) clutches of a big marcoms group. In 1994 he sold the company to Abbott Mead Vickers only to buy it back for £10m in 2001 following Omnicom’s £346m acquisition of AMV.
In the recent past Freud has been less than flattering about the contribution ad agencies make to client businesses, asserting that PR companies take the lead these days. In the same interview he also said that Publicis boss Maurice Levy was “head and shoulders” above Sir Martin Sorrell, which won’t have endeared him to the WPP CEO.
But Freud has invested his own money in ambitious UK agency groups Engine and M&C Saatchi although it’s not known if he has sold these stakes to finance the buyout from Publicis. These stakes have led to speculation (including here) that Freud fancies the notion of playing a leading part in the formation of a big UK-based marcoms player.