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Sorrell Back Already with New Shell Company

May 30 2018

Six weeks after quitting WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell is returning to the marketing fray at the wheel of shell company Derriston Capital. £40m of his own money will join £11m of other confirmed investment and a likely c.£150m more to build a company focused on 'technology, data and content'.

Sir Martin SorrellDerriston will be renamed S4 Capital - thought to be a reference to 4 generations of the Sorrell family - and will be used as a vehicle to buy marketing firms. In an announcement on the London Stock Exchange, the company confirmed that Sorrell will be its new Executive Chairman, and Sir Martin himself stated: 'S4 Capital is a company that aims to build a multi-national communication services business focused on growth. There are significant opportunities for development in technology, data and content. I look forward to making this happen'.

Analysts have already made much of the fact that Sir Martin didn't include advertising or media in his three key word listing, but DRNO is not sure it's all that significant - after all, there's no mention in the words 'Data Investment Management' of what Kantar actually does. The phraseology may however echo his recent comments about the need for a leaner, more agile structure / agency model. These came three weeks ago, at which time Sorrell also hinted that he was not ready to take 'voluntary or involuntary' retirement. He left WPP abruptly in April, shortly after the marcoms giant's Board hired an independent lawyer to investigate media claims of 'personal misconduct' against Sorrell, who had rejected the allegations 'unreservedly'.

With a mere £201m to spend, S4's punch will of course be tiny compared to that of the multi-billion dollar WPP war chest, but it's worth remembering that it'll be quite a lot larger than 2-person Wire & Plastic Products, which Sorrell bought in 1986, and we'll be watching the space for acquisitions and upscaling aplenty. [Incidentally, Wire & Plastic Products is still featured on the WPP web site, now branded as Delfinware - 'Manufacturers of top quality domestic kitchen wireware products' - and sitting within the Specialist Communications group. Where else?]

Web site - likely to change considerably in the coming weeks: www.derristoncapital.co.uk .

All articles 2006-19 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.

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