Kantar Group

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Kantar is the umbrella name for an extensive worldwide network of specialist information, research and consultancy agencies owned until 2019 by marketing giant WPP. The business was expanded dramatically in 2009 by the hostile takeover of larger rival Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). That company was merged with WPP's existing research subsidiaries to form the clear global leader in custom research and advertising intelligence, and #2 overall in research behind Nielsen. (It has since been leapfrogged by healthcare specialist IQVIA). Over the next ten years, almost 100 separate companies were gradually merged and consolidated into nine operating businesses. The best known of these were adex and audience research specialist Kantar Media, shopping behaviour monitor Kantar Worldpanel, and brand intelligence researcher Kantar Millward Brown, which among other projects compiles the annual Brandz brand value ranking. Another unit, Kantar Consulting, is positioned as a sales and marketing consultancy to rival the likes of Accenture and Deloitte. Other units offer custom market research, healthcare consulting, public policy customer experience and data collection. However, in early 2019, these separate units were themselves consolidated under the single Kantar name. In a further adjustment, Kantar divested its healthcare practice in 2020 to healthtech specialist Cerner for $375m. WPP was the only one of the major marketing groups to own a significant market research resource and Kantar had long been considered an uncomfortable fit by analysts, especially in light of the division's comparatively lacklustre performance in the mid-2010s. For 2018, WPP declared combined revenues from what it called data investment management of £2.58bn, down 4.5% reported on the year before. It had been the group's weakest performing division for several quarters. Towards the end of that year, WPP finally announced a strategic review of the business. A deal was eventually agreed with private equity firm Bain, which acquired 60% of Kantar at a total valuation of $4bn. The sale was completed in Dec 2019. Long-standing CEO Eric Salama, first appointed to that role in 2002, stepped down in early 2020, and was eventually replaced in January 2021 by Alexis Nasard. However, Nasard departed abruptly just four months later. Deputy CEO Ian Griffiths was named as interim CEO. Former ITV and Saatchi & Saatchi leader Adam Crozier is chairman.

Capsule checked 28th December 2020

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Who are the competitors of Kantar? According to the AMA Gold survey (formerly the Honomichl Report), the top 10 market research companies by worldwide revenues in 2019 were: Nielsen (research revenues of $6.5bn in 2019), IQVIA ($4.4bn), Kantar Group ($3.9bn), Gartner ($3.3bn), Ipsos ($2.4bn), GfK ($1.6bn), IRI ($1.3bn), Westat ($597m), Wood Mackenzie ($485m) and Dunnhumby ($435m)

Historical profile information for Kantar

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Marketer Moves 26th April 2021: New CEO at Kantar. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Apr 2021: Kantar Group retured to the acquisition trail after a series of disposals, inking its first significant purchase for years. Numerator is a consumer and market intelligence agency based in Chicago. Among other services it generates insights about shopping and other habits from its own digital panel of more than 1m households in the US and Canada. Kantar has agreed to pay $1.5bn for the business, which will partner its existing Worldpanel operation operating across 45 countries outside North America.

Adbrands Daily Update 12th Jul 2019: As had been expected for several days, WPP agreed to sell a 60% stake in Kantar to Bain Capital for around $3.1bn in net cash. Around $2bn of that sum will be used to pay down debt; the rest will be distributed to shareholders. WPP will continue to hold the remaining 40%. The deal is subject to approval from WPP shareholders and from regulators in several countries in which Kantar operates. In Australia, where WPP's interests are represented by separately quoted WPP AUNZ, 100% of the local Kantar division is being divested.

Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Jul 2019: A day after confirming the sale of its Chime stake, WPP announced it has entered exclusive negotiations to sell a majority shareholding in its wholly-owned research arm Kantar to private equity fund Bain Capital. Bain is also the firm to whom WPP relinquished its stake in Japanese group ADK at the end of 2017. The talks with Bain value Kantar at around $4bn; WPP is thought to be negotiating for the sale of between 60% and 75% of the business. A decision is expected before the end of the week.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jun 2019: Amazon was named King of the Castle for the first time in the latest annual Brandz ranking of the World's Most Valuable Brands from WPP's Kantar. A 52% increase lifted the etailer's estimated valuation to $316bn, pushing past three-year champion Google and 2015 leader Apple, who took 3rd and 2nd place respectively. Microsoft held steady at #4 while Visa replaced Tencent in 5th place. The only new entry among the top 50 was Chanel, straight in at #31. Biggest risers were Instagram, Lululemon and Netflix.

Adbrands Daily Update 18th Mar 2019: With talks still underway with potential buyers or partner investors for Kantar, WPP announced plans to consolidate all the company's different offerings under the single company brand, eliminating all remaining sub-brands like Kantar Millward Brown, Kantar Worldpanel or Kantar Consulting. From April, all operations will trade as just Kantar.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2018: Delivering disappointing results for 3Q, WPP CEO Mark Read confirmed plans to press ahead with the long-anticipated divestment in part or whole of the struggling Kantar research division. "There is a significant opportunity to develop Kantar into the world's leading data, insights and consulting company," he said. "We believe in the potential for Kantar but given our many priorities, we need to make tough choices and we believe that the best way to unlock this potential is with a strategic or financial partner. The Board has approved a formal process to review the strategic options that will maximise share owner value. It is envisaged that WPP will remain a share owner with strategic links to ensure that the benefits to clients are realised. Preparations are underway, involving Kantar management, and unsolicited expressions of interest have been received."

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