WPP has sold its 25 per cent stake in Chime – owner of Sebastian Coe’s SCM Sport & Entertainment and VCCP (below) – to majority owner Providence Equity Capital for an initial £54.4m, valuing Chime at nearly £220m.
This is a considerable come-down from the £374m Providence and WPP paid for the business in 2015. Last week WPP sold its 25 per cent stake in post post production house The Farm (one of the biggest in the UK) to US-based Picture House.
WPP CEO Mark Read has been tidying up the sprawling marcoms company with a number of mergers and disposals, choosing to spend money on new “campus” HQs for WPP agencies around the world and attracting and retaining talent. Even so the fall in Chime’s perceived value is noteworthy.
WPP is also trying to sell a majority stake in research business Kantar with the whole valued at £3.5bn. This still looks toppy and may be a reason why a deal, which was originally supposed to close in June, has still not been concluded.
WPP has so far made just under £1bn of disposals under Read. Its debt stood at around £4bn at the end of last year so a sale of some or all of Kantar would be significant and boost its shares. The group is already rather simpler to manage than it was in the Sir Martin Sorrell era with minority stakes all over the place. Sorrell, though, can be expected to weigh in soon by accusing Read of selling the family silver for less than it’s worth.
Bain Capital is reported to be in exclusive talks to buy Kantar in a deal valued at $4bn including debt. Bain has forayed onto media in the past of course, notably in its purchase with Thomas H. Lee of Clear Channel.