Matthew Freud seeks split from Publicis

PR veteran in talks with French advertising group about buying back 50.1% stake in Freud Communications

Matthew Freud is looking to buy back the stake in Freud Communications he sold to French advertising group Publicis five years ago.

Talks have taken place about unwinding the deal, but it is understood that there are significant differences in the valuation of the business.

Publicis acquired a 50.1% stake in Freud Communications, which has clients including Nike, Sony and the London 2012 Olympics, in 2005.

"Everyone agrees it is a good idea, I think it will end up being done although there is some way to go yet," said one source with knowledge of the talks. "Both sides have found it difficult at times and he has done this before, sell it high and try and buy it back cheap."

In 1994 Freud Communications was acquired by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. Following AMV's acquisition by US marketing group Omnicom, Freud and his partners bought the agency out in 2001. Freud also owns stakes in agencies M&C Saatchi and Engine Group.

Companies House results for Freud Communications show that the PR and marketing agency thrived despite the recession with revenue up 23% to £33m and pre-tax profits up 28% to £6.7m in 2009. The agency employs in excess of 170 staff.

In the five years that Freud Communications has been owned by Publicis the agency has opened an office in Los Angeles. However it has been suggested that Freud has become frustrated working within the structure of a larger mark group and that international expansion has not been facilitated as much as had been hoped.

"He is very highly regarded by Maurice Lévy [chief executive of Publicis] and both are very passionate individuals," said an insider. "However he is very much a law unto himself."

Publicis, owner of ad agency networks including Saatchi & Saatchi, recently reported a solid set of third quarter results with like-for-like revenues up 9.2% year-on-year.

Freud Communications and Publicis declined to comment.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000.

• If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Freud in talks over Publicis role

10.45am: Matthew Freud has held discussions with Publicis Groupe about taking over the vacant chief executive position across its UK group of agencies. By Mark Sweney.

Mark Sweney

19, Jul, 2007 @9:41 AM

Article image
Matthew Freud buys back PR firm
PR guru regains control of Freud Communications from Publicis Groupe in deal thought to value business at up to £100m. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

15, Apr, 2011 @5:04 PM

Matthew Freud buys stake in M&C Saatchi

PR guru acquires 3.3% of ad agency founded by brothers Charles and Maurice Saatchi. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

25, Feb, 2009 @9:31 AM

Article image
Matthew Freud enjoys PR payday with £1.8m dividend
Public relations firm buoyed by increase in pre-tax profits while its chairman's take-home pay hit £2.3m last year. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

06, Oct, 2011 @5:19 PM

Freud joins Publicis committee

8am: Matthew Freud is joining one of the Publicis Groupe's executive committees as part of his deal to sell the majority stake in his PR firm to the French advertising giant. By Stephen Brook.

Stephen Brook, advertising correspondent

20, Sep, 2005 @5:13 PM

Article image
Matthew Freud sells £12m luxury yacht to own company
PR guru’s accounts show his business acquired Kingdom Come last year, as he received massive dividend payout

Mark Sweney

11, Oct, 2016 @12:40 PM

Article image
Matthew Freud to buy back PR agency for the second time

Matthew Freud has been seeking a deal with Publicis Groupe, since last year, but talks broke down over valuation

Mark Sweney

13, Mar, 2011 @6:01 PM

Article image
Matthew Freud | MediaGuardian 100 2010
Job: chairman, Freud Communications
Age: 46
Industry: public relations
Turnover: £33m
Staff: 172
Worth: £190m (joint, with wife Elisabeth Murdoch)
2009 ranking: 74

19, Jul, 2010 @4:54 AM

Article image
Matthew Freud | MediaGuardian 100 2011

Job: chairman, Freud Communications
Age: 47
Industry: public relations
Turnover: £37m
Staff: 210
2010 ranking: 33

24, Jul, 2011 @8:15 PM

Article image
Matthew Freud takes home more than £6m as agency group's revenues grow
PR and marketing company, Freud Communications, grew revenues by 9% in 2012 to almost £38m. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

09, Oct, 2013 @1:31 PM