Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital on the £100m takeover trail again – crisis or no crisis

It’s good to find a note of cheer in these straightened times and the pied piper of St James (the posh London domicile of his S4 Capital) Sir Martin Sorrell is still on the onwards and upwards takeover trail, setting out to raise a further £100m from shareholders to give S4 added “flexibility and firepower.”

S4 directors, who now include former Ogilvy boss Miles Young, are to subscribe for £21m with Sorrell stumping up £8m. Interestingly Steve Allan, former global boss of WPP’s MediaCom, has been linked with Sorrell.

The company also says that trading is OK in the crisis with May like-for-like gross profit up “almost” 5%, year-to-date like-for-like gross profit up over 12%. It says it still thinks April will be the lowest point of the year. So far, although it’s extended its credit lines, it says it’s cash positive.

Sorrell (above) says: “In line with our mantra of ‘faster, better, cheaper’, now is not the time to slow down. We believe that it is precisely the time to quicken the development of our capabilities around digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic.

“We have a great team in place, as good as I have seen anywhere, eager to create new and exciting ideas for our clients. We, therefore, want to ensure that the company has the necessary flexibility to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.”

S4 businesses include MediaMonks, MightyHive, ProgMedia in Latin America, Caramel Pictures, BizTech in Australia, Firewood Marketing in California, influencer marketing agency IMA and India content company WhiteBalance.

So what’s the next £100m going to bring to S4? It won’t buy an ad holding company for sure but that doesn’t seem to be on the Sorrell menu. He’s always talked of adding first party data to the mix but that’s pricey these days and you can’t be sure that someone won’t come along whose tech makes what you’ve just bought redundant.

A creative agency to add to content outfit MediaMonks? Stranger things have happened – Accenture bought Droga5 and that seems to be paying off. £100m would buy quite a lot these days. Or a media agency?

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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.

One comment

  1. Avatar

    Just a few days ago the Poisoned Dwarf was suggesting that WPP has grown too big and should be broken up. Has he forgotten that during his thirty odd year tenure he bought more than 650 companies making it the “Dark Star” of the holding companies? All while trousering mega-millions a year. Now he’s doing the same thing with S4 Capitol. Not much time left for evening strolls in Shepard’s Market.