NEWS10 December 2019

Kantar’s Salama to step down

M&A News People UK

UK – Eric Salama, chief executive of Kantar, will depart from the role in 2020, becoming a non-executive director and consultant at the company.

Eric Salama_crop

Salama will remain as chief executive until a successor has been appointed during the course of 2020. Thereafter, he will join the company’s board as a non-executive director, advising clients, working with Kantar management and helping to develop employees on a part-time basis.

Kantar will immediately begin its process of replacing Salama and is looking at both external candidates and those inside the company.

Last week, WPP announced that its sale of 60% to private equity firm Bain Capital had completed, following a process that began over a year ago after the departure of former chief executive Martin Sorrell. The investment valued Kantar at around $4bn. 

Salama joined WPP in 1994 after the company acquired The Henley Centre, where he was joint managing director. Prior to that, he was a researcher and speech-writer for the Labour Party’s Foreign Affairs Team. He went on to hold senior strategy roles within WPP and was appointed chief executive of Kantar in 2002.

Salama said the decision to step down was based on his “personal priorities”. While leading the sale process for Kantar, in January 2019, he was stabbed during an attempted robbery in Kew, West London.

Salama said: “It has been an intense and rewarding 18 months preparing Kantar for sale and successfully closing a deal with our new partner Bain Capital. I am confident that Kantar has never been better positioned for growth than it is now. As professionally rewarding as 2019 has been, a lot has happened on the personal front. After 17 years as CEO now is the right time for me to pause, reflect on my personal priorities and explore other experiences. I am delighted that, after helping with the transition to a new CEO, I will continue to be involved in the business I love.”

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Eric’s contribution to WPP and to Kantar has been immense since the company he was part of was acquired by WPP. Over the past 17 years, he has built Kantar from its infancy into the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company and then worked tirelessly to transition the company to the next phase of its development. We understand his decision and are delighted that he will continue to help and advise the company in his new role.”

Luca Bassi, a managing director at Bain Capital Private Equity, added: “I want to thank Eric for his leadership of the business throughout the sale process and his commitment to the company. He has been the true architect of Kantar’s success over the years and has put in place a strategy that will continue that success. We fully respect his decision to step down at this stage in the development of the company. We look forward to continuing to work with Eric for the long-term success of Kantar.”