‘Queen of the me­dia’

As Lorna Til­bian leaves her bank­ing past be­hind, with ac­co­lades from lu­mi­nar­ies such as Sir Mar­tin Sor­rell and Lord Saatchi ring­ing in her ears, she re­flects on the past, present and fu­ture of the me­dia in­dus­try

Campaign UK - - CONTENTS - By Gideon Spanier

As Lorna Til­bian leaves bank­ing be­hind, she re­flects on the ever-chang­ing me­dia in­dus­try

‘It’s been a hell of a ride and great fun, but I re­ally didn’t want to do a fourth down­turn’

Lorna Til­bian has made her name by call­ing the mar­ket right for 34 years, so when the me­dia in­dus­try’s favourite banker quit her role at stock­bro­ker Nu­mis Se­cu­ri­ties at the end of last year, it was not only the end of an era but also a “sell” sign. “It’s been a hell of a ride and great fun, but I re­ally didn’t want to do a fourth down­turn,” Til­bian says, ex­plain­ing why she felt it was time to step down as head of me­dia at Nu­mis af­ter 17 years and sell her £17m share­hold­ing. “[Down­turns are] very long and very hard,” she says. “The City is full of peo­ple who haven’t op­er­ated in a ris­ing in­ter­est rate en­vi­ron­ment. They don’t know what’s com­ing.” Til­bian’s record means she com­mands at­ten­tion in ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia cir­cles. As a young an­a­lyst, she called the top on Saatchi & Saatchi’s shares at the end of the 1980s be­fore the crash, and called the bot­tom on a debt­laden WPP in 1992. Later, she be­came a cor­po­rate fi­nancier who ad­vised Aegis on its £3.2bn sale to Dentsu, the big­gest M&A deal in ad­ver­tis­ing his­tory, and floated As­cen­tial, the owner of Cannes Lions, and Auto Trader. She says she has al­ways been on the side of “the good guys” against “the char­la­tans” and has a story about seem­ingly every­one in the in­dus­try, from Maurice Saatchi and Sir Mar­tin Sor­rell to Conrad Black and David Cameron, dur­ing his days as a “very slick” PR man. Til­bian’s leav­ing din­ner at The Ritz in Fe­bru­ary was a who’s who of me­dia and ad peo­ple. Lord Saatchi showed he har­boured no hard feel­ings by toast­ing her as “the un­doubted queen of the me­dia”. Sor­rell said in a mes­sage that he would “miss her con­tri­bu­tion at a time when the in­dus­try re­ally needs her en­thu­si­asm”. And her erst­while col­leagues from Nu­mis quoted a line from Cam­paign’s A List, which read: “She is sim­ply a leg­end.” Her love of me­dia re­mains undimmed and Til­bian has taken a clutch of non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor­ships in the sec­tor since leav­ing bank­ing, but she senses that the tec­tonic plates are shift­ing, just as they did at the start of her ca­reer in the City in 1984. Back then, the big themes were glob­al­i­sa­tion and the rise of “one-stop” ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia groups. Now, it’s tech­nol­ogy and stream­ing, Til­bian says. She is not alone in call­ing change. Ru­pert Mur­doch un­veiled the sale of his Fox TV and film as­sets to Dis­ney a few months af­ter Til­bian an­nounced her Nu­mis exit. “If you’d said a year ago that Ru­pert was a seller, there’s no way I would have be­lieved that,” she con­fesses. “I think the FAANGS [Face­book, Ap­ple, Ama­zon, Net­flix, Google] have just made so much head­way in the last year that he re­alised it was an un­equal strug­gle and it is bet­ter to have a small part of a big giant, rather than fight on his own, and to get back to his roots, which is news.” Til­bian be­lieves the Dis­ney-fox deal is one of many signs that the global econ­omy is near the top of the cy­cle. (Com­cast’s sub­se­quent, higher of­fer to buy Sky, the jewel in the Fox busi­ness, re­in­forces the point.) She has a list of six warn­ing in­di­ca­tors: all are flash­ing. • An ad­ver­tis­ing slow­down, dat­ing from WPP’S an­nual re­sults a year ago. • Debt “has been rear­ing its ugly head”, as the col­lapse of Car­il­lion showed. • Record M&A deals, with Broad­com bid­ding for Qual­comm and Dis­ney’s play for Fox’s as­sets. • A big, lever­aged deal, with Black­stone buy­ing a stake in Thom­son Reuters by bor­row­ing heav­ily.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.