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American Billionaire Makes Play for Kantar

May 28 2019

Vista Equity Partners, a firm co-founded by Robert F. Smith, the richest African-American in the United States, has joined the list of bidders competing to buy a majority stake in WPP's insight and analytics arm Kantar.

Robert F. SmithWPP CEO Mark Read is currently driving a turnaround strategy which includes a formal process to sell Kantar - home to the agencies formerly known as TNS, Millward Brown and Lightspeed - with WPP retaining a stake in the business. Last October, analysts valued Kantar at between $3 billion and $4 billion, and recent reports suggest that WPP has shortlisted private equity investors Bain Capital, Apollo, Platinum and a fourth company to submit bids. The sale is set to conclude at the end of next month.

Smith (pictured) has built up private equity and venture capital firm Vista, which manages equity capital commitments of more than $46 billion, owns over 50 software companies and has 60,000 employees worldwide. Founded in 2000, Vista focuses exclusively on the enterprise software, data and technology enabled solutions sectors; and its portfolio of companies includes omnichannel market intelligence firm MarketTrack (now known as Numerator), and event management technology specialist Cvent, whose offer includes online survey technology.

Last week Smith, who has a personal fortune of $5 billion, hit global news headlines when he offered to pay off the debts of the graduating class of nearly 400 students at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Web sites: www.wpp.com , www.kantar.com and www.vistaequitypartners.com .

All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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