M&C Saatchi Float Waterlogged

13 July 2004

The much-hyped IPO firework display on Friday for M&C Saatchi became more of a squelchy squib -- thanks to a dramatic eleventh-hour writ served by a purported creditor of the agency.

This unwelcome piece of paper prompted the brothers Saatchi and their advisors to issue a circular -- later withdrawn -- saying that the flotation on London's Alternative Investment Markets had been suspended.

The legal claim underlying the writ, served on behalf of Sports Media (a company with which M&CS merged its sports sponsorship unit last year), had no legal merit decided M&CS after sending out for the Prozac.

The flotation was reinstated after a few hours, achieving an opening share price of £1.25 ($2.33; €1.88) -- well below the price range of £1.43 - £1.64 predicted by the agency's banker Lehman Brothers. In the event, the market valued the chic shop at just £68 million as opposed to it rosier expectation of £87m.

As a consequence, the agency's five founders (Charles and Maurice Saatchi, Bill Muirhead, David Kershaw and Jeremy Sinclair) are between them £3m short of the £15m they hoped to pocket from the offering.

It will, however, give comfort to the founding quintet that despite the post-float dilution of their shareholding, they still retain voting control of the agency.

The Saatchi brothers, in particular, have not forgotten the events of December 1994 when dissident shareholders surgically separated the siblings without benefit of anaesthetic from the agency that still bears their name.

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