Is Lake Capital’s takeover of Engine a done deal?

UnknownThe deal between Terry Graunke’s (left) Lake Capital and the UK’s Engine Group looked a bit rushed – or the announcement of it anyway – and maybe some of the reasons are emerging.

Campaign reports that former employees of the group who still hold shares, about 50 of them, are not best pleased to be offered 62p for their shares, about 10p less than current employees, and told they have to sell up.

The latter is sensible enough: Engine employees will see their stake in the company reduced from about a third to 15 per cent; so it hardly makes sense for this valuable incentive to be occupied by people no longer with the company. But 10p a share less looks rather mean and may well be open to challenge.

It also seems worth noting that the new Engine Group is merging, first, with research business ORC with the jewel in the crown, entertainment marketing agency Trailer Park, to mosey along later. Does this suggest that some Trailer Park shareholders aren’t as convinced of the merits of the deal as Graunke is?

On the face of it the combo does look as though it has a chance of becoming the mid-market marcoms player Graunke, executive chairman of the new entity with Engine founder Peter Scott as CEO, wants it be with an income of betweeen $500m and $2bn (currently it’s about $400m assuming Trailer Park comes in).

But proposed mergers, as we all know from Omnicom/Publicis don’t always make it to the altar. Let’s hope this one does, not least for the staff’s sake. If it were to founder there could be some rather unfriendly wolves circling.

Update 5/8/14

In an earlier version of this story we quoted US reports that Engine’s revenue came mostly from the US.

Engine’s PR company tells me that UK revenue last year was £79m (up four per cent) against US revenue of £19m – which makes much more sense. So sorry about that.

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