BARB ratings firm Kantar Media screens bankers for £1bn sale

BARB ratings firm Kantar Media screens bankers for £1bn sale
  • PublishedJanuary 6, 2024

Bain Capital and WPP, the FTSE-100 marketing services group, stand to gain from a bumper sale of the business which runs Britain’s TV audience measurement system, Sky News learns.

The company which manages Britain’s television audience measurement system, BARB, is to be put up for sale as its private equity backers eye a windfall worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Sky News has learnt that Kantar Media, a division of the Kantar market research giant which employs 25,000 people around the world, will be auctioned later this year.

City sources said on Friday that Bain Capital, Kantar’s majority owner, was in the process of appointing investment bankers to oversee a sale process.

Industry insiders said that Kantar Media could be worth as much as £1bn.

It was unclear exactly when a sales process might get under way.

Bain acquired a 60% stake in Kantar in 2019 in a deal which valued the research and analytics group at about £3.2bn.

The remaining 40% stake continues to be owned by WPP, the FTSE-100 marketing services group.

Kantar Media conducts broadcast audience measurement in 62 countries, including France, Spain, Norway and parts of Latin America.

Its technology is used in an additional 24 countries, making it a globally significant player in the production of TV ratings data used by advertisers.

Sources said it was also participating in a competitive process being run in the US to establish a rival service to the audience measurement business of Nielsen, another leading market research group.

Kantar Media’s current contract with BARB, signed in 2021, runs until 2029, encompassing the bulk of a decade in which consumers’ viewing habits are continuing to shift amid the growth of digital viewing platforms.

BARB data is based on a representative panel of 7,000 households, which use audience measurement technology called Kantar People Meter 7.

According to a statement at the time of the contract win, Kantar said it would collect data on behalf of BARB equating to more than 163 billion minutes – the equivalent of more than 300,000 years – of playtime annually.

Kantar Media also includes a division called TGI, which is an ‘audience-builder’ service for advertisers.

According to results published in November for the nine months to the end of September, Kantar Media saw an 8% increase in year-on-year revenues to $353m.

Over the last 12 months, the audience measurement subsidiary has become operationally independent of its parent, sparking internal speculation that it might be earmarked for disposal.

Kantar Media is now run by Patrick Behar, a former executive at Sky, the immediate parent company of Sky News.

The wider Kantar group, which provides high-profile market share data on the UK’s grocery retailing sector and boasts that it is used by 96 of the world’s 100 biggest advertisers, is run by Chris Jansen, brother of the outgoing BT Group boss Philip.

It is chaired by Adam Crozier, the former ITV and Royal Mail chief executive.

A spokesman for Kantar declined to comment, while Bain was contacted for comment.


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