Gloves off in Murria bid to take over M&C Saatchi

Deputy chairman Vin Murria’s bid for M&C Saatchi – with her quoted tech vehicle AdvancedAdvT – is turning nasty with M&C’s directors labelling her latest joint bid “derisory.”

The Murria camp’s latest bid and first formal offer (mostly shares) values M&C at £253.6m.

Murria says: “The combination of M&C Saatchi’s existing global brand, culture and foundation with (AdvancedAdvT’s) investment capital, experience and proposed new directors provide a tremendous opportunity to accelerate M&C Saatchi’s digital growth strategy, organically and by acquisition.

“The people are the heartbeat of the business. In working alongside them, we believe we will create a business that will benefit employees, clients, and shareholders by capitalising on the growth opportunities presented by the structural changes in M&C Saatchi’s markets arising from a rapid acceleration of digitalisation, analytics and data creation.

“The enlarged business will have also significantly broadened its access to additional institutional equity. This will enable an acceleration of future investment and accretive M&A to further enhance the appeal of the M&C Saatchi foundation and attract many more quality assets.”

Murria says she will add former Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT CEO Tamara Ingram, former WPP deputy group finance director Christopher Sweetland and former Advanced Computer Software chief operating officer Paul Gibson to the already well-stuffed M&C board.

M&C says the offer: “dilutes and transfers value from the holders of M&C Saatchi shares to holders of AdvT Shares” and fails to recognise the “fundamental growth potential of M&C Saatchi and its clients’ needs, but is based on financial engineering and M&A”; and lacks support from independent shareholders”. M&C recently reported 2021 headline profit of headline pre-tax profit of £27.3m alongside optimistic forecasts for 2022 and 2023.

It’s hard to see where the bid goes from here although Murria’s camp now claims to control around 40% of M&C’s shares, hardly conducive to running the business as it is. Should they eventually sell it will obviously hit M&C’s share price.

The M&C boardroom (and before that, Saatchi & Saatchi) has seen a fair amount of bloodletting. But sorting this lot out will tax even the diplomatic skills of agency veteran and CEO Moray MacLennan.

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