Roberto Quarta
Roberto Quarta

Vultures circle over WPP. WPP shares hit a six-month high on Jan. 9 following a report in the Sunday Telegraph that activist investor Silchester International Investors has boosted its stake in the ad/PR conglom.

Silchester, which has a $500M stake in WPP, is the No. 3 shareholder in the company. It may push for the break-up of the parent of BCW, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Ogilvy as well as majority stakeholder in FGS Global.

The Telegraph also speculated that Silchester may push for the removal of WPP chairman Roberto Quarta. He’s a partner in private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Silchester thwarted CB&R’s bid for UK supermarket chain Wm. Morrison in 2021.

The Great Resignation lingers in public relations. While PR firms are coaxing staffers to get back to the office, employees are still quitting at higher than normal rates, according to a study by Payscale.

PR specialist ranks No. 5 on Payscale’s roster of jobs with increasing quit rates. PR clocked in at 59 percent in the “2022 seeking new job” category. That was up 14 percent from 2021.

Senior customer representative topped the list of increased quitting rates. Software development engineer, creative director, manufacturing production manager followed.

Spinning failure. Virgin Orbit failed its mission to launch the first commercial satellite from western Europe when its LauncherOne rocket suffered an “anomaly” that prevented it from reaching orbit after taking off from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall on Jan. 9.

The failure dealt a serious blow to UK’s hope to beat rival spaceports in Norway and Sweden to claim the crown of Europe’s leading provider of launch services, according to the Financial Times.

It also hurt NASDAQ-listed Virgin Orbit, which is aiming to prove that its horizontal launch systems anywhere in the world with a decent runway. Virgin Orbit’s stock price dropped 20 percent after news of the botched mission.

Virgin Orbit’s press release hailed the “historic UK mission” for reaching space, but ultimately falling short of reaching its target orbit.

It noted: “After successfully taking off from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall—which just a few weeks ago was transformed from a mere slab of empty cement at a commercial airport to the world’s newest space launch operations center—and travelling to the designated drop zone, Cosmic Girl, the customized 747 that serves as the LauncherOne system’s carrier aircraft, successfully released the rocket.”

Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, is “so incredibly proud of everything we have achieved with our partners and friends across the space industry here in the UK and in the US—we made it to space—a UK first.”

She conceded that space is hard, but we are only just getting started.

Good luck, next time.

Off to a lying start. Donald Trump’s tax cut for the rich was the major domestic “accomplishment” of his ill-fated administration.

Sadly, the Republican Congress is following in his footsteps trying to reverse the $80B funding for the Internal Revenue Service that was in Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to track down wealthy tax cheats.

That money enables the underfunded IRS to beef-up its technology and hire 87K more workers to help close the “tax gap” by auditing high-rollers.

The IRS pledges the money will not be used to “go after” households with incomes of under $400K.

But the word of the IRS is not good enough for Republicans like performance artist Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Brooklyn/Staten Island.

She tweeted that the GOP bill means American families and small businesses won’t have bureaucrats harassing them.

The GOP falsely claims the increased funding will be exclusively used to hire agents, while the money will also be earmarked to increase the number of information technology workers, customer representatives and replace people who will soon retire.

The Congressional Budget Office says the GOP’s misnamed “Family and Small Business Protection Act” will increase the deficit by $114B over the next ten years in the event the bill passes the Senate and is signed by Biden. Isn’t the Republican party gung-ho about reducing the deficit?

Thankfully, the Republican bill has no chance to pass the Senate. Kevin McCarthy’s crew of clowns plans to play us like chumps. We better not get used to it.