A weekend with Sorrell: £100m for deals, breakfast banter with Sky and a cautious welcome from Weed

Sir Martin Sorrell is reported to have raised £100m for his new S4 venture, to add to the £50m of equity capital already in place (£40m of it his).

This may be seen as a win or a fail – originally S4 had £150m of ‘non-binding” finance agreements but that seems to have reduced. But, given the various controversies about Sorrell’s alleged private practices to have emerged in the interim, £100m might be seen as a result.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed was quoted in The Times saying, in essence, he wouldn’t rule out working with Sorrell which may also be seen as positive although he could hardly have said the opposite, publicly anyway.

Then the Sunday’s Times’ Prufrock column reported a stormy breakfast encounter at fashionable Mayfair eatery The Wolseley with Sorrell telling inquisitive Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman to “mind his own business.” We don’t know what annoyed SMS but telling hacks to mind their own business isn’t usually particularly productive. Certainly not in Kleinman’s case.

Raising £100m doesn’t mean that’s Sorrell’s limit of course. He could borrow from the banks to top up his coffers if they liked whatever deal/deals he’s planning.

What these might be is anyone’s guess. He says his new company will be in data, technology and creative content but so does everybody these days. Which also means that such assets, if such they be, don’t come cheap. Most of Sorrell’s big deals at WPP came because he could access more money than his opponents, even when the tiny WPP bid for Wall Street stalwart J Walter Thompson. That’s not the case these days with Wall Street a much bigger source of funds than London and lots of cash buyers in the Far East. But billions are still available for the right deal.

Whatever you say about SMS he keeps us entertained.

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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.