Kantar has kick-started the search for a new chief executive following Eric Salama’s decision to step down after 17 years in the role.
The move comes as WPP completes the sale of a majority stake in the data and insight business to private-equity firm Bain Capital, in a deal which valued the company at $4bn (£3.19bn).
Salama will remain in place until a successor is appointed, after which he will join the Kantar board as a non-executive director on a part-time basis to continue to advise clients and mentor key employees.
Salama said: “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.
“After 17 years as chief executive 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 chief executive, I will continue to be involved in the business I love.”
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.”
Salama said the decision to step down from Kantar was a “personal one” following his recovery from a stabbing outside a London café in January. He told the Financial Times that the incident “really makes you reflect on what you want to do over the next few years”.
WPP flogs Kantar stake to Bain Capital in $3.1bn deal
Kantar brands axed as insight agency gears up for sale
Private equity giants eye up major bids for Kantar stake
WPP confirms mega merger of Wunderman and JWT
WPP to sell stake in Kantar as group revenues decline
Kantar opens global data analytics and insight division