Mark Read
Mark Read

WPP Group has sold a 60 percent stake in its Kantar research unit to Bain Capital for $4B as part of CEO Mark Read's plan to simplify the structure of the ad/PR giant.

The deal, which is expected to close in early 2020, will result in a $3.2B after-tax gain for WPP.

Read has earmarked 60 percent of that windfall for debt reduction and about a third for distribution to shareholders.

WPP will retain a 40 percent Kantar stake and looks forward to working with Bain to "unlock its full potential," according to Read.

Luca Bassi, managing director at Bain, called Kantar a "market leader in many areas" and a "remarkable platform for growth." He said Bain sees many expansion opportunities and stands ready to invest in Kantar to "expand the company’s capabilities and reinforce its global leading position.”

Eric Salama, Kantar CEO, said Bain "is a partner who shares our ambition, brings relevant expertise and – with WPP – can help us accelerate our growth and impact for clients."