Eric Salama, long-time CEO of WPP’s Kantar research operation which is now 60 per cent owned by Bain Capital, is stepping down after 17 years. The sale to Bain completed last week. WPP keeps the balance.
Salama (below) is staying on while Kantar looks for a new CEO and will then remain as a non-executive director. It’s been a more than stressful year for the likeable Salama, who was stabbed in a mugging near his home in London’s Kew in January.
Salama says: “It has been an intense and rewarding 18 months preparing Kantar for sale and successfully closing a deal with our new partner Bain Capital. I am confident that Kantar has never been better positioned for growth than it is now.
“As professionally rewarding as 2019 has been, a lot has happened on the personal front. After 17 years as CEO now is the right time for me to pause, reflect on my personal priorities and explore other experiences. I am delighted that, after helping with the transition to a new CEO, I will continue to be involved in the business I love.
WPP CEO Mark Read says: “Eric’s contribution to WPP and to Kantar has been immense since the company he was part of was acquired by WPP in 1988. Over the past 17 years, he has built Kantar from its infancy into the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company and then worked tirelessly to transition the company to the next phase of its development. We understand his decision and are delighted that he will continue to help and advise the company in his new role.”
For years under Sir Martin Sorrell Kantar struggled to keep up with the phenomenal rate of growth of WPP’s other big divisions, especially its media buying operation. In part this was because the intention to challenge US giant Nielsen for lucrative TV ratings work never came off as the big networks there were unwilling to give such responsibility to a media agency owner they were constantly battling with.
But Salama kept the show on the road, latterly amid some trying times for WPP, and if anyone deserves a break from it all he does.
The Salama memoirs would make interesting reading if he ever decides to pick up his pen.