Kantar chief executive Eric Salama has been ousted from the company he helped to build into a $4bn (£3.19bn) business after new majority owner Bain Capital scrapped plans to keep him on until a successor is found.
The move comes just days after former FA, Royal Mail and ITV chief executive Adam Crozier took over as chairman, although it has been claimed that he was not “closely involved” in the process. It seems Crozier did not do much to prevent it, however.
Salama announced in December that he would be stepping down this summer for “personal reasons” after recovering from a stabbing in London last year.
He was due to remain as CEO until a successor was appointed, after which he was then going to join the Kantar board as a non-executive director on a part-time basis to continue to advise clients and mentor key employees. It is thought highly unlikely that Salama will now take up this offer.
According to a report in the FT, he was forced to walk “following a dispute over unspecified business decisions”; quite what these drastic decisions were remains to be seen.
The FT quotes insiders, who said the decision was taken by Bain Capital, which bought a 60% controlling stake in the business from WPP last year. “It’s a power play,” said one. “Bain take a different view on how to manage the business. Fundamentally, they want to run it.”
The hunt for his successor is now being run by Crozier, with business unit chiefs taking collective responsibility for their own divisions and the group board handling any disputes.
A Kantar spokesman said: “At this point in the company’s transformation journey, decisions are being made that have a long-term impact on the company. With delivery of 2020 growth plans now firmly underway, our board of directors felt it appropriate that those decisions be made by the leadership team that will be responsible and accountable for implementing them in the long-term.”
At the time his resignation was announced, WPP global chief executive Mark Read said: “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.”
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