An advertising entrepreneur is hatching ambitious plans to build a global media empire after taking his marketing firm off the stock market. Sources said Marc Boyan was weighing a move to merge AIM-listed Reach4Entertainment, which he runs with former BBC boss Lord Grade, with his private group Miroma.
It follows revelations in The Mail on Sunday that Boyan is also interested in buying embattled ad agency M&C Saatchi.
The merger plan comes as PR supremo Matthew Freud is quietly building a stake in Reach4Entertainment, which promotes live events and recently bought half of footballer Gary Neville’s production company.
The ad giant: Marc Boyan is reported to be weighing a move to merge AIM-listed Reach4Entertainment, which he runs with former BBC boss Lord Grade
Freud’s stake-building ahead of R4E leaving the stock market raises the prospect of the well-connected multi-millionaire helping Boyan build his empire.
R4E said it would be better off as a private firm after warning that the impact of lockdown had been ‘severe’, effectively shutting down the West End and Broadway and putting concerts around the world on hold. It said not being listed would help it save costs, make strategic decisions faster, and could even help it raise cash. Investors who do not sell their holdings in the company before it delists will be left with shares that could be hard to sell.
Freud’s move to take a near-19 per cent stake in R4E in recent weeks means he has a similar size stake to both Boyan and Nigel Wray, the renowned stock market investor and former chairman of Saracens who stepped down this year after the rugby club was revealed to have breached salary regulations.
The delisting was voted through on Friday, but Freud was at odds with R4E’s board over a part of the move. Sources said Freud voted against a special resolution to allow the directors of R4E to issue shares for a fundraising or acquisition.
That could yet upset Boyan’s plans to build a global media empire. Boyan started his career working with Martin Goldsmith, the brother of music promoter Harvey Goldsmith, setting up events in the UK such as the World Wrestling Federation.
City sources said Boyan is considering combining R4E with his privately-owned Miroma once the de-listing is completed.
Miroma has embarked on an acquisition spree in recent years, buying up PR agencies, creative advertising companies and digital marketing start-ups. Its portfolio includes Fold 7, which creates TV ads for Carlsberg beer, and Way To Blue, which helped to boost the social media profile of the hit TV show Downton Abbey.
Boyan is also understood to be keen to carry out further deals to expand his burgeoning conglomerate and has been circling the beleaguered advertising agency M&C Saatchi since the start of this year.
The PR guru: Matthew Freud, with Mariella Frostrup, is well connected
The Mail on Sunday revealed in March that Lord Grade had informally sounded out the board of M&C Saatchi about a potential tie-up. But M&C Saatchi still needs to conclude the investigation into an accounting scandal that prompted four directors to leave last year.
The company’s accounts are being redrafted by PwC and there has been speculation the auditors could mark down 2018’s profit to zero.
Freud, the great grandson of the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, set up his public relations firm Freud Communications in 1985. The business grew into one of Britain’s largest public relations agencies thanks to Freud’s connections to politicians, media executives and celebrities.
Freud’s sister Emma is married to Richard Curtis, the film writer behind Notting Hill and also the founder of Comic Relief.
Freud is also reported to be close to several senior Conservative party figures, including former Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Freud – who was previously married to Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of the media magnate Rupert Murdoch – is now estimated to be worth £170million by The Sunday Times rich list and is a member of the elite Chipping Norton set based in Oxfordshire.
Boyan’s move to build a global marketing empire – potentially alongside Freud – comes as other moguls look to build new conglomerates with a public listing.
Sir Martin Sorrell, for example, set up S4 Capital after he left the advertising giant WPP.
Sir Martin listed S4 Capital on the stock market and has embarked on a series of acquisitions of digital marketing companies. The company now has a market capitalisation of £1.7billion.
A spokesman for R4E said: ‘Matthew Freud is very supportive of the de-listing and supportive of the management.’