WPP and U.S. investment firm Providence Equity Partners are in advanced talks to acquire UK-based Chime Communications for approximately $550 million, the publicly traded Chime confirmed late Wednesday. WPP already has a minority stake in the firm of approximately 20%. More details are expected Thursday.
Chime is a communications and sports marketing group that includes CSM Sport & Entertainment, the ad/marketing shop VCCP Partnership, and healthcare marketer OPEN Health.
The company’s CEO is Christopher Satterthwaite, who has been in the post since 2003.
The firm is made up of four divisions, 56 agencies and over 2000 people with offices across the globe including the U.S., UK, continental Europe, Canada, Asia, Australia, the Middle and Brazil.
Chime’s statement confirmed the talks “regarding a potential cash offer for the entire issued share capital of Chime at 365 pence per share, plus an interim dividend for the current year of 2.53 pence per share,” which translates to about $550 million.
The company added that it has convened an “independent committee” of Chime’s board of directors, which is leading the talks with WPP and Providence. The company also noted that in accordance with UK financial regulations, WPP and Providence have until Aug. 26 to make a firm bid for the company or declare that it isn’t going to proceed.
WPP has been aggressively investing in sports marketing concerns this year. In January it led 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.
In May, the holding company formed a new global sports rights unit called ESP that is working with sports teams, leagues, federations and other sports entities to maximize the value of their properties and other assets in the marketplace.
That unit, which is being organized under WPP’s media management arm, GroupM, has several clients including the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association and the City Football Group, which owns soccer teams in New York, UK, Australia and Japan.