STOCK WATCH: Has Martin Sorrell set up a blockbuster deal?

Sir Martin Sorrell, the ad man who built WPP into a multi-billion-pound marketing giant, is said to be on the cusp of launching his boldest deal yet.

Last week reports suggested Sir Martin, whose new vehicle is called S4 Capital, spent the summer tending to his ‘lemons and oranges’ at his home in Belgravia. But that could be a smokescreen.

Gossips claim Sir Martin has in fact been beavering away on something big, possibly his most eye-catching takeover deal since launching S4 Capital in 2018 after he left WPP in acrimonious circumstances. 

Sir Martin has hinted that his ambition is to overtake WPP one day

Sir Martin has hinted that his ambition is to overtake WPP one day

Sir Martin has hinted that his ambition is to overtake WPP one day

Details of the mooted deal have not yet leaked out. But there have been a few signs that S4 Capital is putting itself in a position to move.

In the summer, it carried out a £116million equity fundraising which will have given Sorrell more firepower to carry out bigger bids. So far it has launched more than ten takeovers of digital ad agencies to build a group worth nearly £2billion.

Sir Martin has hinted that his ambition is to overtake WPP one day, and punters expect his next deal to be a blockbuster.

S4 Capital, whose shares closed the week at £3.72, declined to comment.

Avacta Group 

The talk in the City is that the boss of Avacta Group is involved with Operation Moonshot – the Government’s programme to introduce same-day mass testing for Covid-19.

City sources said widespread rumours suggest that Alastair Smith, chief executive of testing firm Avacta, is heavily involved in the £100 billion scheme to deliver 10 million tests a day by next year.

Shares in Avacta have been on a tear since the beginning of the year after it emerged that it is busy developing a ten-minute home saliva test for coronavirus.

And it has seen several high profile investors take stakes in the business. These include Umar Kamani, the son of Mahmud Kamani, the founder of online fashion giant Boohoo.

The veteran retailer also struck a distribution deal with Avacta to sell the tests online once they are approved by regulators.

On Friday, Avacta Group’s shares rose 6p to £1.64.

Clipper sails to £500m target price

Rumours abound that one of the bidders eyeing Clipper Logistics is weighing a £5.50-a-share offer, valuing the online fulfilment business at more than £500million.

Last week, it was reported that private equity firms Cinven and CVC Capital Partners had been evaluating Clipper Logistics with a view to making an offer for the Leeds-based company which started in 1992 with just three people and a driver. Now it has 8,000 employees at 43 distribution centres with a fleet of more than 470 vehicles.

The interest comes after the chairman and founder, Steve Parkin, teamed up with Sun Capital to take the company private earlier this year.

Talks with Sun Capital broke down and the buy-out shop backed out of a deal.

On Friday, Clipper Logistics shares fell 7.8p to £4.72.

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