WPP is said to be maneuvering for its next $1 billion-plus acquisition—a majority stake in a customer data operation owned by UK big box chain Tesco called
UK press reports over the weekend, citing unnamed sources, indicated that WPP has submitted a bid for control of the operation, which tracks billions of shopper purchases via loyalty cards at Tesco and other retail outlets. Other bidders weren't identified.
Dunnhumby sells its shopper data to a roster of blue chip marketers including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Unilever and ConAgra.
Dunnhumby is valued at an estimated $3 billion. It would be the holding company’s largest acquisition since its purchase of research outfit TNS in 2008 for between $1.9 and $2 billion.
According the UK’s Telegraph, Tesco wants to the sell control (but retain a minority stake) in the shopper tracking firm in an effort to help improve its balance sheet.
WPP has already made several big M&A deals this year. Last month it bought a “significant equity stake” in comScore that is part of a broader strategic alliance with the digital media measurement firm. In January the holding company took the lead in a syndicate investing $250 million in Bruin Sports Capital, a global sports marketing firm launched by George Pyne, the former president of IMG Worldwide’s global sports and entertainment business.
WPP reps declined to comment on the company’s reported interest in Dunnhumby.