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

  • WPP said it believed in the potential of Kantar but said that, given its many priorities, thought it could run the unit better with a financial or strategic partner onside.
  • It reported a drop in underlying net sales of 1.5 percent in the third quarter, compared with a rise of 0.7 percent in the previous three months.
  • The group added that Finance Director Paul Richardson would step down after 22 years in the role.
Mark Read, head of WPP Digital, a unit of WPP Plc, speaks in Dublin, Ireland, Oct. 30, 2013. 
Aidan Crawley | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Read, head of WPP Digital, a unit of WPP Plc, speaks in Dublin, Ireland, Oct. 30, 2013. 

WPP said it had decided to sell a stake in its data division Kantar and would hold off from making more acquisitions as the world's biggest advertising group reported a sharp drop off in trading in the third quarter.

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 it need to rebuild the group after losing some major clients. It has struggled in recent years in North America, the world's biggest advertising market, and with its creative agencies.

It reported a drop in underlying net sales of 1.5 percent in the third quarter, compared with a rise of 0.7 percent in the previous three months.

"Turning around WPP requires decisive action and radical thinking, and our performance in the third quarter of 2018 reinforces our belief in that approach," Read said.

The group added that Finance Director Paul Richardson would step down after 22 years in the role.