NEWS23 February 2009

TNS and Research International merge in Kantar shake up

M&A People

Major reshuffle also sees BMRB social research team merge with TNS

UK— TNS’s custom research division and Research International have been merged by parent company Kantar Group as part of a major reshuffle of its research operations.

RI’s Bob Meyers and and TNS’s Pedro Ros have been appointed chairman and CEO respectively to lead the new company.

It will operate under the TNS name in most regions, and as TNS Research International in countries where RI has a stronger presence.

Meyers told Research: “From an RI point-of-view this is really exciting news. The new company will be either the largest or second largest in every major research market in the world, which clearly says that we have ‘on the ground’ ability to deliver industry knowledge and global protocols to clients.

“I believe we have an unbeatable combination now in taking the best offerings of each organisation and putting them together and we’ll be in a much stronger position to aggressively chase new business.”

Initial client feedback to the merger has been positive, according to Meyers, who said: “We’ll talk with clients and ask what their feelings are and how they want their business managed going forward. Our objective is to be as client-centric as we possibly can.”

The two firms are still at what Pedro Ros called a “discovery stage” as they assess which products from their respective offerings will be in the company’s final portfolio but the CEO said “our combined size will give us the opportunity to invest in certain [product] areas”.

Ros told Research it was too soon to say how many jobs would be lost as a result of the merger. “We first need to bring the two companies together and get a clear picture of how the merger will work and gradually review roles and responsibilities. However there will be a small number of roles that will overlap and there will be a small number of redundancies but at this stage it is impossible to say how many.”

Ros said the two firms are also currently auditing their combined offices and properties around the world before making any decisions on which ones to keep. He was able to say that he would be based in London with Meyers operating out of Chicago.

The other big mover in the Kantar reshuffle is BMRB after its social research team in the UK was merged with TNS’s social and polling operations to form TNS-BMRB. Kantar said it “made sense” to keep the BMRB name associated with polling work, but it was too early to say if there would be any management changes as a result of the merger.

Kantar said it had restructured to give clients “easier access” to services throughout the group, but was keen to keep the various brand names that clients were accustomed to.

Eric Salama, CEO of the Kantar Group, said: “This re-organisation is far-reaching and is all about clients. It’s about how we help clients access the best talents and capabilities we have, when and where they need it. And it’s about a structure which enables us to innovate and roll out offers which are relevant to contemporary client needs. We are keeping a multi-brand structure which encourages the development of best-in-class specialists while dealing with a key client demand to see offers which are more joined-up.”

Other changes at-a-glance

• BMRB’s media and marketing operation, TGI, moves into a new division – Kantar Media – along with TNS Media Intelligence, TNS Media Research and KMR. The division will be responsible for media intelligence and audience measurement and operate under the Kantar banner, but the TNS brand will be kept “in acknowledgement of its strength in the media world”.

• In the healthcare sector, TNS Healthcare, Ziment Group, Consumer Health Services, imap and MattsonJack combine to form Kantar Healthcare.

• Kantar Retail forms to concentrate on retail intelligence, shopper insights and consultancy services by combining Glendinning, Cannondale, Management Ventures, Retail Forward and Red Dot.

• TNS’s consumer purchasing behaviour panel, Worldpanel, is renamed Kantar Worldpanel and will work with clients across the group.

Author: James Verrinder

Related links:

WPP’s research boss welcomes TNS to the Kantar fold

WPP’s takeover offer for TNS declared ‘wholly unconditional’

More change at the top at Research International

RI departures continue as Nadim Sadek resigns