Former WPP boss Martin Sorrell buys Dutch digital agency

Image:Sir Martin Sorrell founded and was chief executive of WPP until April this year

Sir Martin Sorrell has beaten his former employer WPP to buy Dutch digital agency MediaMonks for an undisclosed sum.

Mr Sorrell’s S4 Capital had taken on WPP in a bitter battle to take control of the Dutch company, thought to be worth €300m (£265m).

WPP, the FTSE 100 company he found, warned Mr. Sorrell that his bid was unlawful” and it would strip him of his WPP shares worth £20m.

WPP alleged Mr Sorrell had been “heavily engaged” in WPP’s evaluation of the bid for MediaMonks. Mr Sorrell , who left the company in April, disputed those claims and asked WPP to provide evidence of his involvement.

Sir Martin’s new vehicle, S4 Capital, has lined up funding from a consortium of City investorsto acquire MediaMonks, which counts Audi and Lego among its clients.

The shareholders of MediaMonks, which has revenues of €110m, will receive cash and shares in S4 Capital.

S4 Capital has been created from a reverse takeover of Derriston Capital, a listed cash shell, that Sir Martin plans to use it as a vehicle to build a “next-generation” marketing services group.

Sir Martin has committed £40m of his own money to the new venture.

Sir Martin left WPP following an investigation into allegations relating to the use of company funds to pay for a sex worker – which he has vociferously denied.

His ability to establish a business in direct rivalry with WPP, the owner of J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy and Young & Rubicam, while retaining unvested share options led to a limited shareholder protest against the chairman, Roberto Quarta, at last month’s annual general meeting.

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Sir Martin remains a significant shareholder in WPP, with much of his wealth tied up in the stock of the company he took from a manufacturer of shopping baskets in 1985 to bestriding the global advertising industry.

By the time he stepped down in April, WPP was valued by the stock market at more than £16bn.

Its shares have slipped in recent months, however, amid investor anxiety about the impact of marketing budget cuts and shifts at major global advertisers.

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