WPP is to sell stakes worth billions of pounds that it holds in a wide range of companies, as the world’s largest advertising group looks to refocus after the departure of founder Sir Martin Sorrell.
The company has what analysts have called a “hidden treasure trove” of assets that are not part of its core business, such as a 9% stake in Vice, which as a business is valued at about $6bn.
WPP says the book value of these investments is about £2.5bn. However, analysts believe the true market value could be more than £6bn.
The assets also include a 15% of digital advertising business AppNexus, which is lining up a potential $10bn stock market listing, and a holding in the Nasdaq-listed software group Globant.
Kantar CEO Eric Salama has been looking for backers who might support a management buyout of Kantar. It said that Salama has been in talks with banks and private equity firms since Sorrell’s departure was announced earlier this month. It has been estimated that Kantar’s sale could raise £3.5 billion for WPP.
However joint chief operating officers, Mark Read and Andrew Scott, who are currently running the business while a new CEO is found, have said they want to keep WPP intact.