Bain Capital emerges as frontrunner for majority stake in Kantar

Sale of WPP market research unit could value it at about £3 billion

WPP is looking for ways to reduce debt after struggling to adapt to a shift toward digital ads.

WPP is looking for ways to reduce debt after struggling to adapt to a shift toward digital ads.

 

Bain Capital has emerged as the frontrunner for a majority stake in WPP’s market research unit Kantar, sources said.

The buyout firm is considered the strongest candidate compared with other private-equity suitors after final offers were submitted by June 25th, the sources said.

Vista Equity Partners, Platinum Equity and Apollo had been bidding against Bain in the final round, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Apollo Global Management is no longer actively pursuing a deal, one of the sources said. Other bidders remain engaged in the process, they said.

The sale could value Kantar at about £3 billion (€3.35 billion)to £3.5 billion, sources said previously.

Representatives for WPP, Bain and Apollo declined to comment. WPP chief executive Mark Read has said he’d like to keep a 25 per cent to 40 per cent stake in Kantar, and would use some of the proceeds to offset earnings dilution.

The company is due to update investors on the process by its half-year results in August.

WPP is looking for ways to reduce debt after struggling to adapt to a shift toward digital ads. Clients are doing more marketing online, opting against television and billboard ads where WPP is traditionally strong, while web giants such as Facebook and Amazon are cutting out agencies and working directly with brands. – Bloomberg