MORI (Market Opinion & Research International), the UK’s largest independent research organization, has put itself up for sale with a reserve price of £75 million ($124.57m; €106.47m) and a target of £100m.

MORI chairman, US-born Professor Robert M Worcester (69) who founded the privately held London-headquartered group thirty-four years ago, revealed to employees last week that it plans a controlled auction of the business.

Worcester is arguably Britain’s highest-profile pollster and as Visiting Professor of Government at the London School of Economics, one of the most quoted political analysts in the world.

The company is controlled by its directors and employees, Worcester holding a 19.5% stake with a further 39.5% shared between 400 staffers. The 41% balance is held by investment bank 3i. A sale is expected to be agreed, inked and completed before the year end.

Although a number of unsolicited offers have already been received, the company stressed it is not in exclusive talks with a preferred bidder.

Circling MORI, chequebooks a-flourish, are a number of the usual suspects. One informed observer has placed his bet on the nose of a well-known global agency holding company whose knightly chief executive has repeatedly and publicly staked future growth prospects on non-advertising activities.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff