October 24, 2018 / 8:32 PM / a year ago

WPP to say it is open to selling Kantar stake: source

FILE PHOTO: A WPPA sign on a wall outside the advertising company's offices in London, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Advertising giant WPP (WPP.L) will announce on Thursday that it is open to selling a stake in its Kantar data analytics unit to a financial or strategic partner and has launched a process to do so, a person familiar with the matter said.

The decision is the first major move by new boss Mark Read who is reviewing the group after he took charge in September following the abrupt departure of founder Martin Sorrell.

Kantar has underperformed other businesses within the portfolio owned by WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group, and analysts have speculated that it could be sold. 

They have put a price tag of around 3.5 billion pounds ($4.51 billion) on it.

The person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named because the news is not public, said the company had reviewed Kantar and was open to selling a stake.

WPP, which is looking to sell some minority stakes to lower debt, reports quarterly results on Thursday.

The news was first reported by Sky News. A spokesman for WPP could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Kate Holton

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