Naked owner Photon looks for big cash boost

Just two years ago London’s most successful media strategy company Naked was sold to go-go Australian marcomms company Photon in a deal worth £16.5m.

It’s to be hoped the Naked boys got their money in cash because Photon, which has been busily collected ad agencies and other marketing companies over the past few years, is now trying to raise about $100m to keep going.

Many of the companies it bought were paid mainly in Photon stock.

Photon’s colourful founder Tim Hughes has kicked himself upstairs to be replaced by former News Corporation executive Jeremy Phillips as CEO. Hughes is famous for his impulsive purchases with deals often sealed over a beer and a handshake.

Photon has also restructured its flagship agency BMF with planning director Jeremy Nicholas taking over from Matthew Melhuish who’s been switched to new business duties.

Hughes made his name investing the $380m Aussie TV producer Reg Grundy received in 1995 when he sold the business to Financial Times owner Pearson.

But the investment climate of the mid to late 1990s was rather different to our own dear credit crunch and Photon has found itself dangerously over-extended.

Investment banks McQuarie (a BMF client) and UBS are reported to be working on the Photon fun-raising. Rather bigger marcomms groups like WPP will be keeping an eye on Photon’s fortunes in case any bargain basement pickings in the Antipodes become available.

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