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Britain’s queen of tech Vin Murria eyes M&C Saatchi bid

Britain’s queen of tech eyes M&C Saatchi bid: Vin Murria prepares a takeover offer for advertising agency

Technology entrepreneur Vin Murria is preparing a takeover offer for M&C Saatchi.

The advertising agency said it has received a ‘preliminary approach’ from an acquisition vehicle led by Murria.

‘No proposal has been received but the board has been told to expect one in the near term,’ it added.

Takeover talk: Vin Murria, who is known as ‘Britain’s tech queen’, has a 12.5% stake in M&C Saatchi and became deputy chairman last year

Shares in M&C Saatchi jumped 11.2 per cent, or 21p, to 210p to value it at £257million. Murria, known as ‘Britain’s tech queen’, has a 12.5 per cent stake in the firm and became deputy chairman last year.

AdvancedAdvt – an acquisition vehicle she leads – then took at 9.8 per cent stake on Wednesday. 

That sparked speculation she was plotting a full-blown takeover. Shares are up 25 per cent since then – adding more than £50million to its value.

Business champion 

Britain’s tech queen began earning her stripes in business while she was still a teenager.

Vinodka ‘Vin’ Murria was born in the Punjab in India. Her family moved to the UK – from a place she described as a ‘mud hut’ –when she was three.

Before she went to university she spent a year fighting for her father’s corner shop when it ran into financial trouble. After gain-ing a first-class degree in computer science and then an MBA, she entered the tech world.

In 2008 Murria, 59, founded Advanced Computer Software Group, which began as a £12million tiddler. It was sold to Vista Equity Partners in 2015 for £750million.

The mother-of-one has received numerous awards for her work buying, creating and turning around companies.

She was awarded an OBE in 2018 for services to the British digital economy and she sits on the boards of firms including Bunzl and Softcat.  

Bosses said an independent committee, which Murria would not sit on, would review any offer she makes.

Murria has found fame in the City for building up and turning around tech firms. She is best known for founding Advanced Computer Software group, which she sold to Vista Equity Partners in 2015 for £750million.

She invested in M&C Saatchi as it was recovering from the pandemic.

Murria will have until early February to make a firm bid or walk away.

Brothers Maurice and Charles Saatchi founded the company in 1995 after an American activist investor ousted them from their original group, Saatchi & Saatchi. Its clients have included Burberry, Apple, Homebase, Lindt and Amazon’s audiobook business Audible.

The company’s share price hit an all-time high in March 2019, but in August that year it disclosed an accounting scandal. 

After more problems came to light, the company had to restate its results for previous years and take an £11.6million accounting charge.

Four directors, including Maurice Saatchi, left the company at the height of the crisis.

In November 2020, the so-called ‘three amigos’ who co-founded the business with the Saatchis – chief executive David Kershaw, chairman Jeremy Sinclair and executive director Bill Muirhead – also left.

The pandemic was painful for the advertising industry but M&C Saatchi is recovering. In December it said profits for 2021 would be ‘materially ahead of expectations’.