WPP has offloaded its 25% stake in VCCP-owner Chime to Providence Equity, but the marketing services giant appears no closer to sealing a deal to shift a majority stake in data business Kantar.
Founded in the 1989, Chime was once headed by Tory grandee and spin-doctor Lord Bell, although he left in 2012 to take the now disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger private.
Chime now specialises in sports marketing, but VCCP, the agency which has built its reputation on Comparethemarket, is still a major contributor to group revenues.
For WPP though, the disposal has come at a cost. Four years ago, it linked with Providence to buy Chime for £374m. Now WPP is offloading its stake for £54.4m in a move which values the whole Chime business at £220m; a cool £154m less than in 2015.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, WPP insists it will also receive “potential additional amounts based on the future value of Chime”.
WPP added: “The disposal is in line with WPP’s new strategy as set out in December 2018, a key element of which is to focus on its main areas of business and simplify its operations through the disposal of non-core assets.”
Part of this strategy has seen WPP try to offload a majority stake in data business Kantar, valued at £3.5bn.
Some of the world’s biggest private equity firms – including TPG, Apax Partners, Bain Capital and Cinven – were understood to have shown strong interest but it has all gone very quiet.
The deal was supposed to have been completed by last month.
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