Little-Known Creative Eyes Bid for Cordiant

11 September 2002

Maybe hard news was in short supply last weekend when UK national Sunday newspaper The Observer reported with a straight face that Cordiant Communications could be facing a takeover bid by a former small agency creative director Alan Page.

The story was solemnly repeated at face value on Tuesday by online ad industry publication BrandRepublic, which reiterated that Page was assembling “a team of senior figures from the advertising and marketing industries, as well as financial experts, and is considering a break-up of Cordiant. … and will use his AIM-listed company NWD to make the bid.”

Sensing the improbability of this, WAMN did a little digging and discovered that Page joined the board of little known NetWindfall just two months ago and promptly renamed it NWD plc . The Essex-based company – an online insurance, loans and mortgage broker – had a scant profits record and not one iota of advertising experience. Page took control of this unpromising vehicle by reversing into it his non-trading company Pathfinder Ventures (net cash assets £100,000).

According to a statement issued at the time of purchase, the price paid by Page of £401,657 would be used to “stabilise the company’s finances and provide resources to enable the board to review its options”.

Page observed of NetWindfall’s unimpressive two-year history: “The shareholders … have not enjoyed a very comfortable time, and I hope that over the coming months we can find ways in which to rebuild the company and create a substantial, sustainable and profitable business for the future.”

In the unlikely event that Page really is considering mounting a bid for Cordiant, it recalls David Ogilvy’s brusque putdown back in 1989 when Ogilvy & Mather received an unsolicited approach from a little known Briton. “Why should I sell to someone I’ve never head of who wants to buy this company with borrowed money,” asked Ogilvy?

The suitor in question was Sir Martin Sorrell.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff