Is Roland Rudd planning to buy Finsbury from WPP, in the wake of the departure of Sir Martin Sorrell?
The man himself says not; no talks have occurred, he’s got other things to think about. We’ll take him at his word and allow the possibility that he changes his mind later.
As soon as Sir Martin left, Finsbury’s rivals were quick to speculate.
Rudd, they said, must be mad keen to grab his firm back from the multinational giant, to stop sending them half his profits.
Back in total control of the business, he could make sure he had no senior departures and chase growth.
An alternative view is this: it is too early to know what the effect of Sorrell no longer being involved will be. Does it cut Finsbury’s chances of winning (and keeping) huge multi-national contracts? In which case, why be stuck inside WPP?
Or does it matter not one jot, in which case the reasons for being part of a huge, powerful conglomerate rather than being a mere London PR firm fighting its own corner, remain as strong as ever.
That Rudd is an adviser to WPP chairman Roberto Quarta suggests he might not want to rock any boats just now. Or alternatively, that he’s got plenty of opportunities to raise the issue and get himself a good deal.
I think he’ll wait for this reason: There’s massive amounts of M&A activity everywhere, all of it needing PR from firms with global reach.
And markets, and therefore company valuations, are at record highs. It feels like a good time to be a seller of a business rather than a buyer.