Bankers line up £2.5bn financing for WPP’s Kantar unit

LONDON, March 28 (LPC) - Bankers are lining up around £2.5bn of debt financing to back a potential sale of WPP’s L> data analytics division Kantar, banking sources said on Thursday.

Goldman Sachs is leading a sale of the unit, which may fetch up to £3.5bn and first round bids are due in an auction process in April, the sources said.

The sale is attracting interest from a number of private equity firms including Advent, Bain, Blackstone, Hellman & Friedman and CVC, according to Thomson Reuters.

Bankers are readying debt packages, which could consist of a blend of senior and second lien leveraged loans or high yield bonds, denominated in sterling and euros, to back the buyout.

A debt size of £2.5bn would represent around 6.5 times Kantar’s approximate £370m Ebitda, the sources said.

WPP declined to comment.

A sale to private equity is expected to be warmly received by bankers and investors alike in Europe’s leveraged loan and high yield bond markets, following a lack of deals so far this year.

Kantar works with over half of the Fortune 500 companies, according to its website.

WPP, the owner of agencies including JWT, Finsbury and Ogilvy, is in the middle of an overhaul launched by its new boss Mark Read following several profit warnings in 2017 and 2018, Reuters said. (Editing by Christopher Mangham)