Incepta, the publicly-quoted marketing services group which recently acquired Citigate Communications in a 40m merger, has bought an aggressive 11 per cent stake in Lopex.
It is expected to launch a takeover bid if the target company fails to come to terms.
Lopex, itself a listed company, owns a number of well-established brands, but has suffered from indifferent financial performance. The brands include Purchasepoint, which specialises in conferences and events, sales promotion and direct marketing, MBO-RCF (direct marketing and database management), consumer PR agency Grayling, and ad agencies Arks and Young.
City analysts believe Lopex has been vulnerable to a predator for some time. It has had a run of lacklustre results, culminating in pre-tax losses of 1.49m on turnover of 121.32m and revenue of 34.46m in the last financial year, ending December 31, 1996.
Analysts point to a good fit between some of the Lopex brands and the marketing services companies owned by Incepta, formerly WMGO Group. Purchasepoint and MBO/RCF could dovetail with direct marketing and sales promotion company LGM and presentation company Park Avenue; while Grayling would complement the financial PR expertise of Citigate.
But Incepta is not thought to be interested in consumer and recruitment advertising or research, suggesting it could sell Arks, Young, Riley and its stake in RSMB, if Lopex succumbs.
One stumbling block is the position of Lopex chief executive Peter Thomas, who has a salary package of 300,000 and a three-year service contract – which could entitle him to compensation of about 1m.