WPP divests majority stake in Kantar to Bain Capital
WPP, the international advertising giant, has concluded an agreement to sell a majority stake in prominent market research company Kantar to private equity firm Bain Capital.
The two parties have been in exclusive negotiations in recent weeks over a deal for a 60-per-cent holding that values the business at $4 billion.
It was reported that there had also been interest from Apollo Global Management, Platinum Equity and Vista Equity Partners.
The sale is subject to approval by WPP shareholders and other regulatory and legal approvals.
Kantar conducts media and audience measurement, sponsorship measurement and evaluation and research into fan behaviour.
WPP has been divesting non-core assets to pay off debt and focus on main areas of business and simplify operations.
The group said that proceeds after tax and continuing investment in Kantar will be in the order of $3.1 billion, and 60 per cent will be used to reduce debts, with $1.2 billion to be returned to shareholders.
In a statement, WPP chief executive Mark Read said: “Kantar is a great business and we look forward to working with Bain Capital to unlock its full potential. As a strategic partner and shareholder in Kantar, WPP will continue to benefit from its future growth, while our clients continue to benefit from its services and capabilities."
Luca Bassi, a managing director at Bain, claimed the firm sees “many opportunities for expansion” of Kantar, adding: “We will invest in technology to expand the company’s capabilities and reinforce its global leading position.”
WPP recently sold its 25-per-cent stake in Chime Group Holdings, the UK-based sports, entertainment and communications operation, to the company’s majority owner Providence Equity Capital for £54.4 million ($68.25 million).
Chime assets include CSM, the London-based international sports and entertainment marketing agency chaired by Sebastian Coe.