It hasn’t taken long for Bain Capital – the new owner of 60 per cent of WPP’s research business Kantar – to flex its muscles.
CEO Eric Salama (below), who stayed on after the Bain deal with WPP (WPP still owns 40 per cent) has been ousted early although he had already announced he was stepping down. Kantar’s board, newly-chaired by former ITV boss Adam Crozier, does not appear to have consulted.
Salama has had a rough old time, he was the victim of stabbing near his home last year. Quite what blew up with Bain we know not but it leaves WPP and Crozier with dilemmas.
WPP trousered the best part of $4bn when it sold to Bain, helping to reduce its debts dramatically and boost its share price through a buyback, but part of the plan was that it would continue to have access to Kantar’s data and services – the best of both worlds. If Bain is determined to change Kantar dramatically – which seems the likeliest outcome – then this relationship might be threatened. Bain may even want to buy the outstanding 40 per cent.
As for Crozier, a big cheese in both adland and the City, it’s humiliating to find your first job rubber-stampingh a decision you might not have agreed with and almost certainly didn’t expect.