Last week, holding group WPP sold a 60% stake in Kantar to private equity firm Bain Capital, realising £2.5bn to reduce its debt and to return to shareholders.
This week, more details emerged of what Bain’s plans are for Kantar. Luca Bassi, a managing director at Bain, told Campaign that he anticipated “a mix of internal technological investment, people investment to bring on board stronger people capabilities and also external investment, because we have seen there are a lot of small companies – technology disruptors – in the market [that Kantar could buy].”
It’s a vote of confidence in both Kantar’s brand and reputation and the sector more generally.
“We see more and more companies and corporates of any sort of size, industry and geography increasingly require more data and better solutions to analyse them,” Bassi explained.
And he believes they are willing to spend more on these sort of services in order to make better decisions.
Other agency groups have reached similar conclusions: Publicis recently spent $4.4bn to acquire Epsilon while last year Interpublic paid out $2.3bn for Acxiom.
With WPP apparently moving in the opposite direction, CEO Mark Read’s rationale is that the business should be focused on “data-driven marketing rather than data ownership.” There are a “growing number of sources of data in the world”, he noted when the sale was announced last week.
Not all of those sources are direct competitors: Kantar CEO Eric Salama pointed out that there are many companies operating in some of the same areas, including the likes of Accenture and Nielsen.
He professed himself more concerned with Kantar’s own offer. “What we need to do is be relevant and contemporary, and offer impact and value for our clients,” he said. “The real competition is not another company.”
Sourced from Campaign, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff