Bain Capital has entered into exclusive discussions to buy a majority stake in WPP’s data analytics firm Kantar in a deal worth roughly $4bn (£3.2bn).
The deal would bring to an end a lengthy auction process which has seen bids from a series of US buyout funds including Apollo Global Management and Platinum Equity.
WPP has confirmed the talks, first reported by Bloomberg, but said there was “no certainty” they would lead to a transaction.
The auction, which kicked off last year, marks a key part of WPP’s efforts to streamline its corporate structure.
Under new boss Mark Read the advertising giant has sold a string of non-core subsidiaries and merged several agencies, including Wunderman and J Walter Thompson.
On Monday WPP sold its 25 per cent stake in sports marketing agency Chime for £50m, just a week after it offloaded its majority stake in TV and film post-production company The Farm Group.
But the sale of Kantar, which WPP valued at $4bn, will be the holding group’s most significant restructuring move to date.
Bain’s move on the market research firm is the latest major private equity deal to emerge in recent weeks.
Blackstone and Lego’s founding family tabled a £4.8bn offer for Legoland owner Merlin Entertainments last week, while earlier this year Nestle said it was in exclusive talks to sell its skin health business to EQT Partners in a $10bn deal.