WPP Sells 60% Kantar Stake to Bain - Fri., Jul. 12, 2019

WPP sign

WPP banks £2.5bn as it finally sells Kantar

The deal is expected to be completed in early 2020, subject to approval from WPP's shareholders and regulators, as well as to the completion of a reorganisation at Kantar, WPP said.

The company will use 60% of the proceeds to reduce debt and the rest of the cash, about US$1.2bn (£1bn) will be returned to shareholders. "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", he added.

Bain Capital is acquiring 60% of WPP-owned Kantar for US$4 billion.

Read said many leading private equity companies were interested in Kantar, which was launched by WPP in 1992 and offers insights into the views of customers and consumers in more than 100 countries, and WPP was very pleased to obtain a valuation of 8.2 times its 2018 earnings.

WPP CEO Mark Read is now driving a turnaround strategy and in March announced a formal process to sell Kantar - home to the agencies formerly known as TNS, Millward Brown and Lightspeed - with WPP retaining a stake in the business.

Bain's interest in Kantar is the latest private equity deal in recent weeks.

If completed the deal will trigger a £1billion windfall for investors as the company has pledged to return a sizable chunk of the £2.5billion proceeds to shareholders. It will further simplify and reposition WPP for growth, whilst unlocking significant value for shareholders.

Luca Bassi, a managing director at Bain Capital Private Equity, said the firm sees "many opportunities for expansion" in Kantar.

Eric Salama, Kantar CEO, said Bain "is 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. "Our deep sector knowledge, operational expertise and strong track record of partnering with management teams to accelerate growth give us confidence that we can help Kantar grow both organically and by acquisition".

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