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Thatcher ad firm M&C faces £250m bid from its own deputy chairman

·2-min read
Margaret Thatcher speaking in the House of Commons during her time as Prime Minister (PA) (PA Archive)
Margaret Thatcher speaking in the House of Commons during her time as Prime Minister (PA) (PA Archive)

M&C Saatchi, the storied Soho advertising firm with close links to the Conservative Party, faces a £250 million takeover bid from its own deputy chairman.

Vin Murria, a software entrepreneur with a near 10% stake in the business, is poised to make an offer that would take the business off the stock market.

A story in the Daily Telegraph this morning flagged her intentions. Today M&C was forced to tell investors that it has received “a preliminary approach from AdvancedAdvT Limited, a vehicle connected with Vin Murria, a director of the Company”.

It added: “No proposal has been received but the Board has been told to expect one in the near term.”

M&C shares rose 7% to 202p on the news, giving it a stock market value of £247 million.

A formal bid is expected very soon.

The firm is possibly the biggest name in London advertising. It was behind the “New Labour, New Danger” campaign that tried to demonise Tony Blair ahead of the 1997 General Election. Company founders Maurice and Charles Saatchi were also the inventors of the more successful “Labour isn’t Working” campaign in the late 1970s, which helped Margaret Thatcher.

M&C has had a tough few years. An accounting scandal in 2019 saw the shares suspended and watchdogs launch an investigation. Then management including CEO David Kershaw stepped down.

Under new chairman Gareth Davis and CEO Moray MacLennan the firm has lately bounced back.

Vin Murria founded Advanced Computer Software which she sold to private equity in 2015 for £725 million.

She has a 13% stake in AdvancedAdvT, which was supposed to be looking for “acquisition opportunities in the software sector”.

Her impending bid for M&C is both a vote of confidence in the business and the wider London advertising sector.

She is also on the boards of Bunzl and Softcat.

M&C has won new business lately, including from Mars, Apple and TikTok.

Its statement today said: “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.”

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