"I have absolutely no comment," was Agency Group chief Neil Warnock’s response to Pollstar’s questions on the deal. He did add that he considers all the agents working at Helter Skelter to be "exceptional."
A Sanctuary representative at Brunswick PR, which has handled the music group’s public relations since it wound up its communications department, said the offer from the London-based Agency Group was one of a number of expressions of interest for Helter Skelter but none represented the true value of the business.
Helter Skelter was arguably once the biggest of the U.K. agencies but it has shrunk over the last two years, beginning with Jeff Craft, Ian Huffam and Steve Strange leaving to form X-Ray Touring.
Emma Banks and Mike Greek left last year to set up a new London office for Creative Artists Agency, but the remaining five senior agents – Pete Nash, Paul Franklin, Paul Bolton, Adam Saunders and Nigel Hassler – still have an impressive European rep list that includes Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dido, Dixie Chicks, Enter Shakiri, Faithless, James Morrison, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings Of Leon, McFly, and Sugababes.
It also might have been a good fit for Warnock’s company, which lost The White Stripes, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and The Raconteurs, among others, when Russ Warby left to join William Morris Agency’s new London office.
News that The Agency Group’s bid to buy Helter Skelter fell through came within a few days of Sanctuary shares leaping 40 percent to 16.25 pence on the back of a company statement confirming it has received approaches from several third parties to buy the business in its entirety.
Although Sanctuary didn’t name the interested parties, the Guardian reported industry insiders naming U.S. giant Warner Music and Vivendi-owned Universal as the likeliest bidders.
The spike in the share price upped the company’s value to £37.2 million and it looked to be going higher as investors represented by Hargreave Hale Ltd. and Evolution Securities – the company Mean Fiddler nominated to handle its ill-fated October 2004 share disposal – began buying stock.
The shares edged further up to 17 pence May 21st but settled at 16.50 pence at close of business May 22nd.