Engine in Loudwater sale

Speculation mounts about stock market float as Engine sells 15 per cent stake.

Engine Group has sold a 15 per cent stake in the business to the investment company Loudwater Trust for an undisclosed sum.

The move adds weight to speculation that the company, the owner of WCRS, is gearing up for flotation on the stock market, as Loudwater Trust has a track record of preparing companies for initial public offering (IPO).

However, other sources say that an IPO could still be up to three years away, because the group needs to make a number of acquisitions first.

On the back of this cash injection, Engine plans to invest in businesses in new media and corporate and financial PR. It is also in talks about an office move that could see its nine group companies relocated into one building in Great Portland Street by spring next year.

The deal will be approved at an extraordinary general meeting in September.

Richard Wyatt, the chief executive of Loudwater, will join a company board that currently includes the WCRS founders Peter Scott and Robin Wight, the lobbyist Adele Biss, and Ed Eskandarian, the chairman of Arnold Worldwide.

Engine has been on an aggressive acquisition drive over the past three years. Most recently, it acquired the digital agency DC Interact and brought it together with its existing digital agencies Eyefall and Meme under the Altogether brand.

It also owns the PR agency Slice, the stakeholder communications agency Advocacy and the lobbying agency AS Biss & Co.

The company was founded in 2004, when WCRS completed a management buyout from Havas. In 2005, it rebranded as the Engine Group.

Engine posted revenues of £25.7 million in 2006 and has forecast revenues of £40 million for 2007.