Sir Martin Sorrell, one of Britain’s best-known businessmen, has taken up the reins of a listed shell company to use it as a vehicle to buy marketing firms.
His dramatic return into the spotlight – revealed by Sky News on Tuesday – comes just six weeks after his sudden departure from the world’s biggest advertising agency.
Sir Martin, who quit WPP in April amid personal misconduct allegations, said he would invest £40m of his own money into Derriston Capital, while investors had pledged £150m to do deals.
The company will be renamed S4 Capital, a new entity established by Sir Martin for the purpose of his return to the public market.
It is understood to refer to four generations of Sir Martin’s family.
“S4 Capital is a company that aims to build a multi-national communication services business focused on growth,” he said in a statement.
“There are significant opportunities for development in technology, data and content. I look forward to making this happen.”
By taking over Derriston, Sir Martin is attempting to replicate the success he enjoyed at Wire and Plastic Products (WPP), where he became chief executive in 1986 and went on to acquire some of the world’s most famous advertising agencies.
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Since his exit from WPP, Sir Martin has dropped hints about starting again, telling a conference in New York this month that successful agencies in future would need to be “more agile, more responsive, less layered, less bureaucratic, less heavy” than traditional advertising firms.
The circumstances of Sir Martin’s exit, which came just weeks after it emerged that the company’s board was investigating allegations about his conduct, have not been disclosed. He denies any wrongdoing.