EM: new neutrality
To the Law Society Hall for the City of London’s first gong show of the season: the Public Relations and Communications Association’s City and Financial Awards. Not even Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that morning could dampen the spirits of the assembled flacks and corporate spin-doctors.
The PRCA dodged any embarrassment by naming as its flotation of the year the team behind Seraphim Space Investment Trust in preference to UK-listed contenders with Russian exposure, such as online retailer Fix Price and IT group Softline.
The latter two IPOs were handled by EM, a London-headquartered consultancy that boasted recently of being on the ticket for all but one of 2021’s Russian floats.
EM is still reviewing operations to determine the effect of sanctions, according to a person familiar with the matter, who said quitting London had not been ruled out. About half of EM’s 60 staff are based in Moscow and its key clients pre-Covid included Aeroflot, the Russian state-owned airline now banned from UK airspace. “Every EM account has some Russian connection,” the person said. “Severing ties with Russia would mean shutting down the business. It’s not an option. ”
Agencies have been ditching Russian clients after the PRCA this week urged members to break all links with the Kremlin, with expulsion for any that choose to work with sanctioned organizations. EM has never joined a PR trade body. Tom Blackwell, founder and chair of EM, said in a written statement: “We are all for peace, and stand by our clients who share this view.”
Seraphim: constellation prize
Back at the PRCA awards, not everyone welcomed Seraphim’s victory in what one attendee nicknamed “the turd polishing category”. The inaugural winner of its best IPO campaign in 2016Fishing Republic, entered administration in 2018. Dress retailer Quiz took the 2018 prize then fell more than 90 per cent on a string of profit warnings.
Last year’s winner, the antimicrobial textiles specialist HeiQdisappointed with its first trading statement and has been trading below its flotation price since September.
Hudson Sandler: off the record
“After the easing of pandemic travel and quarantine restrictions, it was a joy to finally be able to visit clients and colleagues in Moscow,” wrote Hudson Sandler managing partner Andrew Hayes in a now-deleted blog post from November.
Citing, inexplicably, the Chinese-owned AliExpress as an example of the Russian tech scene’s “home grown market leaders”, Hayes wrote of feeling as if Moscow had “stolen a digital march on London and New York”.
PR agency Hudson Sandler has since been severing ties with organizations including the Russian Direct Investment Fund, an investor in AliExpress’s Russian joint venture and a client since 2012, whose blurb also disappeared from the corporate website’s “Our Work”Page. Emails to Hayes received no reply.
Royal Huisman Phi: shipshape
The Royal Huisman Phi, an art deco-styled motor yacht in powder blue with chrome trim, made its maiden voyage in December from the Netherlands to Canary Wharf’s South Dock and has been moored ever since. No public records exist to identify the owner of the $ 45mn boat and its mini-me support yacht.
Industry websites have reported only that an unidentified Russian millionaire was rumored to have taken delivery. But while many oligarch-owned yachts were sailing to the Maldives to avoid potential seizure, the Phi stayed put.
City Insider understands its mystery owner is a Maltese passport holder, described by an acquaintance as a “private low-key, family man”. A European Union registration and a UK-based crew and management might also help preserve its safe harbor.
But what explains the Phi’s extended stay in British waters? A deckhand familiar with the situation told City Insider its nearly three months in dock were to prepare for a visit on Thursday by the judging panel of Boat International‘s World Superyacht Awards. Suppliers, most of whom are London based, had been given the maximum time possible to make sure the yacht’s interior is prize-worthy.