EDITORIAL: Take heart from Freud buy-back

The sale by the Omnicom-owned ad agency AMV of Freud Communications

should give heart to all PR agency founders. Those who regret selling to

large quoted conglomerates are legion - tales of unachievable

target-setting and interference in day-to-day management decisions make

this a problem unlikely to go away soon. Successful buy-backs are rare

indeed.



An owner-managed firm will always be more agile in the marketplace than

one in which major decisions - on investment in products or new staff -

have to be cleared through tiers of management in New York. At a time

when holding company boards are insisting on belt-tightening at even

profitable subsidiaries, the temptation to buy their way out must have

been overwhelming for Matthew Freud and his team.



On the face of it, the deal makes less sense for AMV and its parent, the

NYSE-listed marketing services monster behind many of the biggest names

on the PR high street. Freud's was making money, and from methods which

weren't reliant on the exposed consumer ad budgets currently being

trimmed. Time will tell if Omnicom, which has issued only the most

cursory of business statements on the matter so far, knows something the

rest of us do not.



Freud's is known to have been granted more autonomy than many acquired

firms to get on with its business over the last seven years. It can now

do so in its own interests and those of its clients, without any

recourse at all to a higher being.



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