Founded in 1984 by husband and wife team, Mike and Helen Illes, MOT Models focussed on the provision of commercial models to photographers, advertisers, designers and production companies primarily in London, but also in continental Europe. MOT has four commercial divisions – commercial, fashion, junior and character – and generates annual bookings in excess of £4.8m. The agency has also launched Zone Models, a niche brand providing leading fashion models and representing VIP clients.
As a leading commercial agency, Mike and Helen felt that they were in a very strong position to crystallise the value built up over 25 years of hard work but were uncertain as to where a buyer might be found.
The model agency business is not known for its large number of acquisitive groups, and amongst the array of small agencies, MOT was unusual as a well-run successful commercial business – not simply a lifestyle choice for the owners. We felt that the pre-requisite for any buyer would be financial ability and therefore we chose to focus upon two different sets of synergies. The first would be market, here concentrating on advertising groups and personality management, and secondly we focussed upon the pure function of the business – from this perspective we were led towards the temporary recruitment sector.
Of the diverse interest shown in the company, we chose to proceed with Vedior NV as the preferred bidder. Being the third largest recruitment group in the world with a history of acquisitions and a respect for the brands they acquire we felt it would be the perfect home for the business. The resulting transaction allowed the Illes to sell 75% of their business, all in cash, with Mike remaining for an earn-out period. The couple then worked with Vedior to continue MOT’s growth – significantly enhancing their London presence.
MOT Models is a brand-new sector for us; clearly it operates on a completely different economic cycle to our other business sectors. It is this simple fact that makes it attractive to us.
The key aspect this particular transaction illustrates is the idea of the ‘left-field buyer’ – our unique process, relying on senior level direct contacts meant that we were able to unearth a strategic fit that even the eventual buyer admitted he would not have originally seen. Once the key features had been understood, the experience the acquirer had gained from a great many acquisitions meant they remained calm and proactive through up and downs in the market and process.
Had you simply told me this was a model agency, I would not have come to the first meeting.
Colin Reader, Director Vedior NV