WPP has agreed to sell 60 per cent of Kantar to private equity firm Bain Capital in a deal which values the business at $4bn (£3.2bn).
The search for a new majority shareholder in WPP’s market research unit began at the backend of last year, with a plan for WPP to always to remain in control of some of the business’ shares. In the end, Bain Capital fended off all other potential suitors and is now on course to claim a hefty chunk of Kantar.
“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,” said Mark Read, WPP CEO. “I would like to thank Eric Salama, his team and everyone at Kantar for their tremendous contribution to WPP – a contribution that will continue as we develop the business together.
“This transaction creates value for WPP shareholders and further simplifies our company. With a much stronger balance sheet and a return of approximately 8 per cent of our current market value to shareholders planned, we are making good progress with our transformation.”
The deal is expected to close in early 2020, subject to approval from WPP shareholders and government regulators in the European Union, the US, Brazil, China, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, South Africa, and Mexico.
Upon completion, WPP will retain around 60 per cent of the proceeds to cut debt to the low end of its target leverage range, with the remaining $1.2bn being returned to shareholders