Wolff Olins sets price for buy-out

A group of directors at Wolff Olins, one of the few major consultancies still in private hands, is finalising a management buy-out. Within two years Wally Olins may bow out from the consultancy.

The MBO team comprises managing director Charles Wright, head of consultancy John Williamson, creative director Doug Hamilton and director Kate Manasian.

Wright says the price is fixed although the MBO team is talking to at least two unnamed venture capitalists, one of which is believed to be 3i.

“We quite deliberately kept more than one on the go and told them we would narrow them down,” says Wright, who was holding back on the price. Industry sources estimate the figure at between 5m and 7m.

The announcement was made ahead of the deal’s completion to quash long-running rumours on the consultancy’s future.

Co-founder and chairman Wally Olins, deputy chairman Brian Boylan and co-founder and company secretary Jane Scruton will all stay involved in the business, taking on new roles and shifting the balance of power.

Olins will stay on the board for the next two years, Boylan will become the new chairman and will stay on the board, and Scruton’s role is still under discussion.

“It will be an evolution rather than a revolution,” says Olins, who has turned down approaches from a number of acquisitive marketing services groups.

See News Analysis, page 8.

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