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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Uriah Heep is New Incisive CEO

In an extraordinary interview given to The Times, Incisive Media CEO Tim Weller claims he has found his recent debt for equity deal crisis a humbling experience. Humble! In the interview the copy brags about his Aston Martin, his ski chalet and his £11m in the bank.

His erstwhile owners (who still have stake in his business), Apax, are derided by Weller for bringing no operational understanding to his business. We are glad to be shot of private equity, he says.

He claims that the level of debt was never discussed at board meetings! Isn't the Chief Executive responsible for everything? Why didn't Weller put the debt issue on the agenda. If I were running a debt laden business, I doubt I would discuss much else.

Anyway, it's nothing to do with him. Not my fault guv. I paraphrase here, but he says, "Apax showed me one slide that debt was a good thing. It seemed ok to me so I thought no more about it."

Oh come on. Weller was desperate to get off the public market. He personally made a fortune as the business went private. Now the banks have lost their shirt, Apax have lost almost everything (in the Uk business at least), and the ceo says, depsite the fact that he blames PE for all his businesses woes, he'd do a private equity deal again because he got what he wanted out of it. You can almost hear the rush of private equity feet queing up to get some of that action.

I should think there are some lids blowing off the heads of APAX execs.

Meanwhile in another interview with Paid Content, Weller says all is well with the business and he doesn't need to make any more cost cuts oe sell off any assets. Yeah right. I wonder if the banks agree with that. They won't be interested in growth and aggressive expansion. They just want some of their money back.

There are moments when bumptiousness and larger than life straight talking can serve you well, but when you have laid off hundreds of staff, supervised the loss of your shareholders money, and the lenders have taken a big haircut, it's probably a good idea to go to work in the Mondeo rather than bragging about the Aston and the Ski chalet and to exude a bit of genuine humility.

And finally, one article reports that Helen Alexander is to be Chairman. That would be odd. The banks will want the chairman to be on their side, to hold the CEO to account. Helen A did a fantastic job at The Economist, but she is an old mate and admirer of TW's isn't she?

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At 9:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Business Media Blog makes some very good points. Unfortunately it also makes some very ill informed ones.
I'm not going to rise to the bait of the taunting as I am hardly able to get out of my chair owing the huge quantities of humble pie that I have been eating recently, but rest assured I am reminded that what one says to a journalist and what gets printed are not always one and the same.
For the record, debt was discussed at board meetings, Apax fulfilled all of their obligations as a PE partner by adding valuable advice without ever trying to get too involved at an operational level and we have learned valuable lessons as a management team from the experience which will serve us well in future years.
The business is in good shape, I am fortunate to have some of the very best people in the industry working with me and I am excited about working alongside any Chairperson who can add value to the business.
Yours faithfully
Tim Weller.

At 11:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. If the ST has misquoted you, you must be justly cross. I try not to be ill informed, but took on trust that what the ST said you said, is what you said. Makes you wonder how Murdoch is going to sell us news that isn't true. Its an interesting economic model I'll admit.

As we all being humble today, I will remind myself not to believe everything I read in the press. What's for desert?


At 11:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop kissing his a**e, he's not recruiting

At 12:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you annonymous, for that robust analysis. I think what we have done is presented two views. Are you suggesting that TW should not be allowed right of reply? Or that I should not take what he says as his fairly held view? I guess you read the ST piece. You have read mine, and now TWs reponse. You can make your own mind up.

Kissing a**se. Never! Common courtesy. Always!


At 12:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

children, children - play nicely

At 12:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worked for Tim for years (and no my name is not James or Nick)and i have never seen him so upset over an article. This was never a true reflection of him or his views.
He has done everything he could do to protect jobs and repair the balance sheet to get the Business to a position to move forward positively.
I do know that he will get over this and will draw a line under it.

P.S. We are actually recruiting - follow the link for some great opportunities...

At 3:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... you could also say Tim has created a few millionaires on his way. All those business' that were bought at generous valuations.


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