Is S4 Capital In Play?


 S4 Capital chief Martin Sorrell told analysts today on an earnings call that the company has received no buyout offers worthy of consideration.   

“We have received no credible offer for the board to consider,” Sorrell said on the call, which followed the firm’s release of its full-year 2023 results.  



Earlier this month The Wall Street Journal reported that S4 Capital had turned down recent approaches by private equity firms and Stagwell because they undervalued the company.   

Asked about the viability of S4 Capital’s offering as a “stand alone asset” in the marketplace, Sorrell responded that “our offer is effective and competitive and can compete with more scaled competitors,” as well as specialists and consultants.   

He added that the firm’s three-tiered offering of content, data/digital and technology services “integrates well in both pitches and relationships.”  

The biggest hit to its numbers for 2023 was the loss of one of its so-called “whopper” clients—Mondelez. It accounted for 30 million GBP, or about 3.3% of the company’s 4.5% organic revenue decline last year said Scott Spirit, S4’s Chief Growth Officer who was also on the call.  

The company’s goal is to reel in 20 “whoppers”--defined as clients that generate at least $20 million in net revenue annually. Last year the firm lost two and added two to keep the total at ten, the same as in 2022. In addition to Mondelez it lost an undisclosed tech company while adding a telecommunications firm and fast-moving consumer goods company.  

S4 is taking steps to improve its sales efforts and it is further tweaking its “land and expand” approach to landing clients and upselling with additional services.  

“We need to get our house in order” said Sorrell, referring to top-line and margin improvement.  

The firm imposed strict cost measures and cut its staff from 9,000 to 7,700 last year.   

Company officials are confident that the tech sector will resume historically normal spending levels on advertising and marketing. The question, for now unanswered, is when that will occur.  

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