Following months of speculation, WPP has agreed to sell a majority stake of its market research company Kantar to the private-equity firm Bain Capital.
Kantar’s Irish operations are sizeable and include the likes of Kantar Media, Kantar Millward Brown and Kantar Worldpanel which publishes ongoing research on the Irish retail market.
The deal values Kantar at around $4bn and net proceeds to accrue to WPP will be in the region of $3.1bn. The sale is part of an ongoing restructuring of WPP since the departure of Martin Sorrell last year, including a debt restructuring programme. Around $1.2bn of the proceeds, however, will also be returned to shareholders by way of a dividend.
It is understood that a number of other private equity firms like Apollo Global Management, Platinum Equity and Vista Equity Partners also expressed an interest in acquiring some or all of Kantar but Bain entered exclusive negotiations with WPP a few weeks ago.
According to Mark Read, CEO of WPP: “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, of Bain Capital says it sees “many opportunities for expansion” in Kantar. “We will invest in technology to expand the company’s capabilities and reinforce its global leading position,” he says.
Kantar’s chief executive Eric Salama, meanwhile, said: “In Bain Capital, we have a partner who shares our ambition, brings relevant expertise and – with WPP – can help us accelerate our growth and impact for clients. We are focused on delivering ‘human understanding at scale and speed’ and the ‘best of Kantar’ more consistently. We will do so by investing more in talent and by becoming a more technology-driven solutions provider.”