STOCK MARKET WATCHLIST: Life after Sir Martin Sorrell sees WPP seek buyer for its £3bn market research firm Kantar
WPP’s post-Sorrell clear-out kicks off in earnest this week. The advertising giant has brought in bankers from Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for Kantar, its market research firm.
The sale is a key plank of chief executive Mark Read’s turnaround plan to simplify the business that he inherited last year from founder Sir Martin Sorrell.
First-round bids for Kantar are due in the coming days, with WPP hoping to complete a deal by the end of June.
WPP’s post-Sorrell clear-out kicks off in earnest this week. The advertising giant has brought in bankers from Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for Kantar, its market research firm
Analysts at Deutsche Bank said in a research note they expect the deal to value Kantar at £3.1billion and they assume WPP will retain a 33 per cent stake in the business.
Market sources say a sale to a large private equity firm is the most likely outcome.
However, a report in the Financial Times on Friday suggested a host of big names have already pulled their interest amid concerns over the price and sustainability of the business.
Blackstone, Carlyle and Advent International were all ruled out of the race. Other names in the frame include CVC, Permira, Apollo, Carlyle, Apax and Bain.
Ocean Outdoor, the digital billboard firm behind the Piccadilly Circus lights, has struck a sponsorship deal with DS Automobiles. It means that Ocean, valued on the London Stock Exchange at £320million, will show live highlights of Formula E races on 14 UK screens to promote electric car races.
It is the first sponsorship deal of its kind for Ocean, which is expanding the business beyond traditional advertising on its digital billboards, and has seen its share price boosted by strong results.
The deal with DS, which makes electric racing cars, could help to drive the shares further forward.
Yet another share price collapse from Israeli spreadbetting firm Plus500 on Friday. This time, it blamed low volatility for a plunge in revenues in the first quarter.
It also revealed that chief executive Asaf Elimelech and chief financial officer Elad Even-Chen both pocketed £4.6million last year in salary and bonuses, more than double the year before.
News of the hefty pay hike comes after a 70 per cent share price fall since February after a shock profit warning.
A good thing the founders managed to offload £250million in shares last year.
It was the biggest ever debut for a hedge fund when ExodusPoint Capital Management was launched last year with an $8billion (£6billion) war chest.
The New York-based firm, set up by former colleagues at hedge fund Millennium, opened its first short position in Europe last month with a bet against French electrical equipment maker Rexel.
Now, it has set its sights on a UK target: Royal Mail. ExodusPoint has taken out a 0.5 per cent ‘short’ worth £13million in the postal service, say observers at data firm Breakout Point. Royal Mail shares have halved in a year. Will more pain mean a cheque in the post for ExodusPoint?