CEO Nadal sells down MDC Partners stake – which may attract attention from the odd lurking predator

Advertising is a high wire act (as Wieden+Kennedy in Portland is currently re-discovering) and there’s no more spectacular trapeze artist than Miles Nadal, CEO and, until the other day, the biggest shareholder in MDC Partners which owns some or all of Anomaly, Crispin Porter and 72andSunny.

Unknown-8Nadal (left), the ‘crafty Canuck’ as my friend George Parker calls him, has sold 3.5m shares in the company, netting him a healthy $81m. Even WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell would say hello to that. Nadal’s reason for the sale is ‘portfolio diversification’ according to MDC.

Since the news of the impending sale MDC Partners shares are off about 13 per cent valuing the company at just over $1bn, still a pretty healthy sum for an organisation that has never made what most people would recognise as a profit.

We could be putting two and two together to make five but do the travails at W+K in the US (see link above) and doings at MDC suggest that independent or quasi-independent agencies (which many MDC agencies are) are struggling in an era where the big holding companies are hoovering up the world’s biggest accounts?

Amid all the talk about Publicis Groupe or Aegis/Dentsu bidding for Interpublic (or even Omnicom) it’s easy to overlook the attraction of MDC (profit or no profit). The company’s a bit of a ragbag of agency brands (with minority stakes all over the place).

But with agency consolidation the flavour of the month (among analysts anyway) MDC looks a tempting target. And $1bn plus wouldn’t give any of the biggies indigestion.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.