Bain Capital acquires 60% of WPP’s Kantar

Bain Capital has acquired 60% of WPP’s data, research and analytics business Kantar. The deal is expected to net WPP $3.1 billion on completion after tax and continuing investment in Kantar. Eric Salama and Robert Bowtell will remain in their roles as CEO and CFO.

Kantar will be carved out of the wider WPP group and placed in a holding structure ahead of completion of the deal, which is expected to take multiple stages. WPP will retain circa 60% of net proceeds to reduce its debt. The balance proceeds of $1.2 billion will be returned to its shareholders.

Speaking about the deal in a statement, WPP said: “The board considered that the best way to unlock Kantar’s potential and maximise shareholder value was with a strategic or financial partner. It was envisaged that WPP would remain a share owner with strategic links to ensure that the benefits to clients were realised.”

“The WPP Board believes that the proposed transaction will allow Kantar to strengthen its industry-leading position through the combined expertise and resources of Bain Capital and WPP. It also crystallises significant value for WPP’s shareholders, while giving them continued exposure to an attractive business with the potential for further value realisation in the future.” 

The transaction valued 100% of Kantar at $4 billion. The deal is pending the approval of WPP shareholders and antitrust regulators in the European Union, the United States, Brazil, China, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, South Africa and Mexico. . 

Speaking of the deal, WPP CEO Mark Read said: “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. 

“I would like to thank Eric Salama, his team and everyone at Kantar for their tremendous contribution to WPP – a contribution that will continue as we develop the business together. 

“This transaction creates value for WPP shareholders and further simplifies our company. With a much stronger balance sheet and a return of approximately 8% of our current market value to shareholders planned, we are making good progress with our transformation.” 

Bain Capital Private Equity managing director Luca Bassi said: “Kantar is a market leader in many areas and we are excited to be partnering with its management team and WPP to build on this remarkable platform for growth. We see many opportunities for expansion and will invest in technology to expand the company’s capabilities and reinforce its global leading position.” 

Bain Capital Private Equity managing director Christophe Jacobs van Merlen added: “We believe that we are well-positioned to support Kantar, alongside WPP, in driving forward the business in a rapidly changing industry. Our deep sector knowledge, operational expertise and strong track record of partnering with management teams to accelerate growth gives us confidence that we can help Kantar grow both organically and by acquisition.” 

Kantar CEO Eric Salama said: “Our new ownership structure presents a great opportunity for Kantar, our employees and our clients. 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.”


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