Sorrell wins backing from Odey for new venture
Support a vote of confidence in Sorrell, who was ousted as CEO from WPP Plc in April
Martin Sorrell (73) was ousted as chief executive officer from WPP earlier this year after an inquiry into alleged personal misconduct. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters
“People have made a lot of money with Martin and he doesn’t look like a man who wants to rest,” Odey, founder of hedge fund firm Odey Asset Management, said in a phone interview. “With Martin, you have someone who knows the whole market very well.”
The support from one of Britain’s best known fund managers is a vote of confidence in Sorrell, who was ousted as chief executive officer from WPP Plc in April after an investigation into alleged personal misconduct. Several news outlets have reported that WPP was probing allegations that he used company money to pay for a visit to a brothel, which Sorrell has denied.
Sorrell (73) wants to use acquisitions to build a marketing services business through his company S4 Capital Ltd. He has a list of targets and a first deal could be announced in the coming weeks, according to three people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as the details are confidential.
Odey said he’s betting on Sorrell to make an acquisition soon.
“He’s got something lined up,” Odey said. “The cleverest thing Martin always did was he kept on buying businesses every year. He kept on finding out what the new technology guys are doing.”
The attempt at a fresh start after WPP has been aided by backers in the City of London who helped him turn the former manufacturer of wire shopping baskets into a global ad empire over three decades. Rupert Faure Walker, who advised WPP on its purchases of creative agencies J Walter Thompson and Ogilvy and Mather, is one of S4’s non-executive directors. S4 is being advised by Dowgate Capital Stockbrokers. Dowgate’s chairman David Poutney is one of the city’s most prominent stockbrokers, after having run corporate broking at Numis Securities for 15 years.
S4 said in May it had raised £51 million, with Sorrell putting in £40 million of his own money, and had the support of institutional investors to raise another £150 million of equity to make acquisitions.