July 1, 2019 / 7:50 AM / 4 months ago

WPP sells minority stake in Chime for $68.9 million

(Reuters) - WPP Plc (WPP.L) said it sold its minority stake in sports, entertainment and communications company Chime for 54.4 million pounds ($68.91 million), as the world’s biggest advertising company looks to sell non-core assets and return to growth.

WPP said on Monday it had sold the stake to Chime’s majority shareholder Providence Equity Partners, with the potential for additional payout amounts based on the future value of Chime.

WPP did not disclose its stake in Chime, but a Sunday Times report here said it is expected to offload 25% of its holding to Providence, which already owns 75%.

WPP said in December that it will invest to hire new creative staff and reduce costs by cutting offices and jobs under a turnaround plan by new boss Mark Read.

Read replaced founder Martin Sorrell during a period of turmoil in 2018 and set out his vision after a loss of key clients led to several profit warnings and a slump in its market value.

WPP’s shares were up 1.8% in early trade.

WPP also sold post-production services provider The Farm Group to Los Angeles-based Picture Shop earlier this month without disclosing the terms.

WPP has shortlisted a series of U.S. buyout funds to submit binding bids for a majority stake in its data analytics unit Kantar as it wants to finalize the sale in late June, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“We think associates and property sales could raise a further £500m and there is, of course, the potential sale of a majority stake in Kantar,” Liberum analyst Ian Whittake said.

Kantar is valued at about 3.5 billion pounds.

Chime has created campaigns for clients including HSBC (HSBA.L), O2, easyJet (EZJ.L), Compare the Market, Cadburys (MDLZ.O), Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O).

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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