The financial comms agency, established in 2002 by former Financial Dynamics (now FTI Consulting) bosses Nick Miles and Hugh Morrison, is concluding its wind-down after the resignation of a number of senior figures in March.
Miles and Morrison were among the seven senior staffers to walk out of the agency amid dissatisfaction with the value of equity incentives.
At the time M:’s private equity owners King Worldwide insisted there remained a ‘clear strategy to take the business forward’.
However, M: chief operating officer Charles Blount told PRWeek that the agency is now in the final stages of an ‘orderly wind-up’ process.
‘The business will wind down over the next few weeks,’ he said. ‘We have been in close contacts with clients throughout to ensure this causes the minimum impact. Everyone is being looked after in a reasonable way.’
The M: website was taken down late last week, but Blount said the agency would not officially close for a ‘number of weeks’ until the last clients and staff migrate to new businesses.
Blount added that all agency staff will be paid in full and the vast majority have secured new roles.
These include two of the senior team that had remained with M: until last month, Andrew Benbow and Ann-marie Wilkinson, who have taken senior in-house roles at Genel Energy and IGas Energy respectively.
A number of other businesses have spun out of M: within the past month, with members of the energy team forming Vigo Communications, its Russian practice launching EM and the agency’s former healthcare division spinning out into Consilium Strategic Communications.
It is also understood that the Middle East business and its crisis specialist Keyhaven have spun out into separate entities since the March departures.
Many of M:’s former clients have migrated to these start-ups, while a number of others have since moved to M:’s former rivals.
FTSE 100 miner ENRC last week shifted to Capital MSL, while luxury goods group LVMH also moved to Capital MSL earlier in the year. Other high-profile client moves include Ocado moving to Tulchan Communications and Cineworld Group shifting to Pelham Bell Pottinger.
M: was one of the key players in City PR throughout the 2000s looking to break the stranglehold of the three traditional financial PR powerhouses Brunswick, Finsbury (now RLM Finsbury) and Financial Dynamics.
M: grew its fee income to £13.8m in 2008 before the financial downturn fully hit and beat a host of top City names to secure the prestigious retained financial PR account for Lloyds Banking Group in early 2009.
Sage Communications, since renamed King Worldwide, bought M: in 2008 alongside proxy solicitation firm DF King & Co for a total sum of £90m.