Loewy has entered a second week of deal-making with the surprise exit of one of its highest profile financial backers, Luke Johnson, just days after the acquisition of Williams Murray Hamm (DW 7 December).
It is understood that Johnson’s departure follows disagreements over the group’s acquisition and growth strategy.
Loewy chief executive Charlie Hoult says Johnson’s investment vehicle Risk Capital Partners has sold its 19 per cent stake in the group back to Loewy’s shareholders for £2.5m, two and a half times Johnson’s initial investment in 2004. Previous press reports appear to have overestimated RCP’s stake, now valuing Loewy at just over £12m.
Loewy’s buy-back of RCP’s shares was financed via a bank loan, says Hoult, who adds that money has also been secured for two further acquisitions at the beginning of the year.
Johnson is leaving his post as Loewy chairman, to be succeeded by Pembridge Partners founder Mark Adams. Loewy is thought to be discussing the possibility of Pembridge buying a stake in the business, following Johnson’s exit.
Loewy continues to explore the possibilities of a stock market flotation as a ‘route to clever financing’, says Hoult, although nothing is imminent.
A 2006 flotation on the Ofex stock market, now known as Plus, was mooted by Loewy in 2004, following the RCP-backed five-way merger that created the group (DW 20 May 2004).
Since RCP’s investment in March 2004, Loewy has more than doubled in size through six acquisitions, spanning print design, PR and digital media.