NEWS30 April 2018

All eyes on future of Kantar

M&A News UK

UK – As WPP announced its first quarter results since long-term CEO Sir Martin Sorrell left suddenly following allegations of financial misconduct, speculation on the future of its data and market research business Kantar has been mounting.

Eric Salama_crop

Without Sorrell to lead the group, the possible break-up of WPP has been widely talked about, with Kantar immediately standing out as a likely breakaway business.

The Times has now reported that Kantar CEO Eric Salama (pictured) has been looking for backers who might support a management buyout of Kantar. It said that Salama has been in talks with banks and private equity firms since Sorrell’s departure was announced earlier this month.

It has been estimated that Kantar’s sale could raise £3.5 billion for WPP.

However joint chief operating officers, Mark Read and Andrew Scott, who are currently running the business while a new CEO is found, have said they want to keep WPP intact.

A WPP spokesperson said: "Roberto Quarta, Mark Read and Andrew Scott are leading the business and reviewing the group’s strategy. They will focus on the optimum shape of the group to create growth and shareholder value and will make their recommendations to the Board in due course. It is too early to speculate about specific asset sales. In the meantime, it has been made clear that they don't believe breaking up the group makes sense."

Salama has been one of the people thought to be a possible Sorrell replacement and although it is reported he doesn’t want WPP broken up, if investors pushed for Kantar’s sale, Salama is looking at the buyout option.

The Financial Times has also reported that private equity firm, CVC Capital Partners, was in very early stage discussions about purchasing Kantar.