Troika Media Group's (TMG) $11 million acquisition of Mission Group has imploded with a nasty lawsuit. TMG claims Mission Media's leaders Nicola and James Stephenson “absconded” with $1.5 million. The suit also claims James Stephenson threatened to “murder” a Troika Media executive.
On the other side, Mission believes it was defrauded by TMG,
according to an article in
the New York Post.
In a lawsuit filed in New York, TMG states $1.5 million is missing because Mission either “presented false” financial statements or “absconded” with the money, while alleging James Stephenson “threatened to kill” senior TMG executive Andrew Bressman.
Court papers state the couple were fired on Jan. 4.
Mission's Nicola Stephenson has filed documents stating the allegations are “offensive and comically false” amid an “endless campaign of lies" and that she and James were terminated by TMG "without cause in order to avoid their obligation to pay us millions of dollars in back-end payments arising from our sale.”
Last July, TMG triumphantly announced this merger in order to form a "super group" to be called Troika Mission Group, which would focus on cultural insight, influencers, consumer experience, digital innovation and online advertising.
Mission’s and TMG’s client list were said to include Amazon, LVMH, Microsoft, Unilever, Tiffany & Co., Sony, Allergan, J.Crew, Victoria’s Secret, InterContinental Hotels Group, UNICEF, Chelsea Football Club, DS Virgin Racing, AT&T, ESPN, Hulu and others.
Under the deal, the merged agency was to be led by Nicola Stephenson as president, alongside Kevin Dundas, CEO of Mission and former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi UK and Droga5 Europe.
Other senior executives included Jon Forsyth, strategic partner at Mission, cofounder of ad agency Adam & Eve DDB; Mary Connelly, former senior executive team member of U.S. editions of Vanity Fair, Vogue and Glamour; and Jason Lundy, former head of global consumer marketing for Citibank.
Troika issued this statement: "This is a commercial dispute with a terminated employee. We are unable to comment outside of the scope of the legal proceedings. As we look toward the future of the business, we're focused on continuing to deliver great work while investing in our talented team of 187 people across London, New York and LA."