WPP says open to stake sale in data unit as sales drop sharply

LONDON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - WPP said it had decided to sell a stake in its data division Kantar to pay down debt as it reported a sharp drop off in trading in the third quarter sparked by weakness in the United States and its creative agencies.

WPP, being rebuilt by new boss Mark Read, said it believed in the potential of the Kantar data analytics business but said that given its many priorities it thought it could run the unit better with a financial or strategic partner onside.

WPP, which lost its founder Martin Sorrell in April, said underlying net sales were down 1.5 percent in the third quarter, compared with a rise of 0.7 percent in the previous three months. (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)