Freud directors bid to buy back AMV agency

Directors at Freud Communications are understood to be attempting a buy-back from parent company AMV.

Directors at Freud Communications are understood to be attempting a buy-back from parent company AMV.

According to a PRWeek source, all the Freud directors - including chairman Matthew Freud, managing director Gaby Zein, Kris Thykier, Nick Wiszowaty, Oliver Wheeler, Patrick Keegan, Rebecca Hirst and new business director Clare Chilcott - are involved in the buyout discussions.

If accepted, the deal could move relatively quickly, with the sale possibly being completed in the next couple of months, said the source.

The agency was sold by Matthew Freud in 1994 to Abbott Mead Vickers for pounds 10m.

However, it is understood the directors are looking at a buy-back fee of less than pounds 10m. The industry rule of thumb is that an agency is worth up to three times fee income, which would price Freud at around pounds 15m.

Last year, the end of Matthew Freud's five-year earnout period was marked with widespread speculation about his future with the business. He has insisted he will always have a part to play in Freud Communications, but in the past two years the agency has been restructured so it could survive without him.

Despite media reports on the so-called demise of Freud Communications and speculation its famous chairman is past his prime, the company is set to show its highest earnings this year, in 15 years of trading.

Freud Communications could benefit from regaining its independence from AMV, which is part of Omnicom - owner of PR agencies including Countrywide Porter Novelli and Ketchum. Aside from Freud himself, none of the other directors have a stake in the company at the moment.

As PRWeek went to press, Michael Baulk, AMV group chief executive, was unavailable for comment. No one at Freud was willing to comment on the rumours.

Freud Communications began life in 1985 as Matthew Freud Associates, with its sole client being the Irish folk band Clannad.

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