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Tech entrepreneur Murria eyes bid for ad company M&C Saatchi

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LONDON (Reuters) -M&C Saatchi has received bid interest from its director and biggest shareholder Vin Murria which could lead to a takeover offer for one of the biggest names in British advertising, the company said on Thursday.

Founded in 1995 by brothers and ad moguls Maurice and Charles Saatchi, M&C is still recovering from a 2019 accounting scandal that rocked the agency known for its campaigns for Britain's ruling Conservative Party.

M&C said Murria, who owns 12.5% of the advertising firm directly and 9.8% via her acquisition vehicle, had not issued a proposal or detailed terms, but told the company to expect one in the near future.

M&C's shares rose 7% in early trading on Thursday to add to jumps in recent days as Murria increased her stake, giving it a market valuation of more than 240 million pounds ($324 million).

The stock, which has been recovering steadily as the group outperformed market forecasts, has now jumped 20% since the end of 2021 but remains 40% below 2019 levels.

Murria, the deputy chair of M&C, joined the company in March 2021 as it recovered from a tough two years, helped by client wins under Chief Executive Moray MacLennan from Apple, Mars, GSK, Iceland and Reckitt.

Murria has built a number of business software companies that have been taken private and she sits on several boards.

"The board confirms that the new strategy announced in Q1 2021 is already delivering, with the company's performance consistently exceeding expectations, demonstrated by a succession of positive trading upgrades," M&C said in a statement.

M&C produces advertising and content for company's including Amazon's Audible, Zipcar and EDF.

Were it to be bought by Murria it would become the latest name to leave the British stock market, following a private equity buying spree over the last year.

($1 = 0.7404 pounds)

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Alistair Smout, Paul Sandle and David Clarke)

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