VMG – Avanti – ASG Media – ASG Estates
Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief
Unfortunately rumour and intrigue seem to surround the UK digital screen network industry at the moment. Okay so it makes good ‘copy’ but media planners and buyers must be as confused as we (sometimes) are.
Surely no one can blame the media folks and brands for not showing enough interest in the UK shopping mall sector when it is hard enough as it is to keep track of all the digital screen companies (literally) coming and going in this space at the moment.
As for what shopping malls themselves must think of us in the DOOH space god only knows.
In the last few months we have seen the demise of VMG International only for VMG Global to re-appear with some of the old contracts anew and then do deals with arch-competitor ASG Media, Avanti Screenmedia renamed itself to ASG Media only to disappear a short while later into administration.
(RAM.L) RAM Investment Group PLC then purchases the assets of ASG Media and wraps them via TrainFX (a company sold by VMG to RAM but let’s not go there today) into a new business called ASG Estates.
ASG Estates is run by David De Costa, husband of Hanna Sebright who sold the remnants of Electronic Health Media to Amscreen, sued Lord Sugar and friends for sexual harassment (oh, did we mention that one of these ‘friends’ won his job on a reality TV programme called The Apprentice) then earlier last week didn’t (actually) sue Lord Sugar and friends. Phew!
Lord Sugar’s Lawyers please note (repeated here): Hanna Sebright, a former employee of Amscreen Group Limited, of which Lord Sugar was Chairman until 1 July 2009, has withdrawn all claims raised in London East Employment Tribunal against Amscreen and the four individual named Respondents, including Lord Sugar.
If that wasn’t enough it appears that Mike Cottman and Dominic Brookman (both directors of VMG Global of course) setup a new business called VMG-ASG (UK) LIMITED on 22/10/2009
VMG-ASG (UK) LIMITED
Registered No. 07053501
PO BOX 1298 20 STATION ROAD, GERRARDS CROSS,
If that wasn’t enough for people to follow then surely the strangest rumour of all at the end of the week is that after VMG Global narrowly missed out themselves on purchasing the assets of ASG Media (that’s not a rumour, that’s a fact), they sensibly knocked on the door of (RAM.L) RAM Investment Group PLC trying to ink some form of deal only walking away themselves very likely to be purchased!!
Now if (RAM.L) RAM Investment Group PLC did buy VMG Global we would at last have one single UK Shopping Mall digital screen network (hallelujah) something we have been recommending for a long time.
That indeed would be a turn up for the books. Now, exactly how do we get our credibility back?
November 23rd, 2009 at 16:29 @728
Not sure I share your optimism about a combined network to be owned by Ram Investment Group PLC. Looking at their last accounts they had cash of £29K and net assets of £125K and their auditors ’emphasised the matter’ of them needing to raise more funds to remain a going concern. Since then they have issued shares to raise £1.1m and also secured a loan of £200K but according to the press releases most of this has been spent on acquiring Train FX. Given the 7 figure annual operating losses of the old VMG and ASG Media businesses this does not leave enough money to keep them trading for long let alone pay the shopping centres any rents/revenue shares or invest in new kit for roll out. Unless there is a new share issue pending it is surely going to be hard to regain the confidence of the centre owners and media agencies that the new vehicles (s) will be any less of a financial disaster than the previous incarnations? Sorry to be a pessimist but better we rely on the old stagers like Titan, CBS and Clear Channel to make digital in shopping centres work, or look to innovative well funded new entrants, rather than another false dawn.