Venture-capital firm Bain is entering into exclusive negotiations with WPP to acquire a majority stake in the holding company’s research arm Kantar, the holding company confirmed Monday afternoon.
The confirmation followed reports to that effect earlier in the day. Initially, the holding company declined comment. Bloomberg broke the news.
WPP disclosed late last year that it intended to sell a majority stake in the firm as part of an ongoing streamlining program, part of which entails shedding non-core assets.
At the time, WPP also said it intended to hold onto a minority stake in Kantar. In March, WPP CEO Mark Read told analysts the firm has concluded the best way to realize Kantar’s full potential, considering all the company’s priorities, was to bring on a financial and strategic partner to take control.
He also said at the time the company hoped to announce a deal by around mid-year.
In May, the company narrowed the list of potential bidders to four venture capital firms. In addition to Bain, those firms included Apollo, Platinum and Vista Equity Partners.
Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the process, reported Kantar has an estimated value between £3 and £3.5 billion pounds ($3.8 billion to $4.4 billion).
In its statement confirming talks with Bain, WPP emphasized: "There is no certainty that these discussions will result in a transaction involving Kantar."
This story has been updated.