Kantar chief executive Eric Salama has been ousted just months ahead of his planned departure as new owner Bain Capital turned its fire on the market research firm’s long-serving boss.
Salama announced in December that he would step down from the company in 2020, citing “personal priorities” after he was stabbed in an attack in west London last year.
But Kantar today confirmed that the chief executive, who has run the firm for 17 years, has been relieved of his duties with immediate effect.
A source told City A.M. that there had been “friction” between Salama and the board over long-term planning. “Bain have a playbook and either you facilitate it or you don’t,” the source said.
The shock sacking, first reported by the Financial Times, comes as Bain overhauls Kantar’s management team after buying a majority stake from WPP for $4bn (£3.2bn) last year.
The company last week confirmed the appointment of former ITV boss Adam Crozier as chairman, while fellow ITV veteran Ian Griffiths was named as Kantar’s new chief financial officer in January.
While Bain is understood to have completed planning for 2020, the private equity firm is now eyeing up longer term plans, including a potential stock market float in the coming years.
A spokesperson for Kantar said: “At this point in the company’s transformation journey, decisions are being made that have a long-term impact on the company.
“With delivery of 2020 growth plans now firmly underway, our board of directors felt it appropriate that those decisions be made by the leadership team that will be responsible and accountable for implementing them in the long-term.”
Kantar will be run by its executive committee, which is made up of divisional chief executives, until a replacement is found.
Salama hit the headlines last year when he suffered a punctured lung after being stabbed in an attempted robbery outside a cafe in Kew.
At the time, the veteran media boss joked that the “most distressing aspect was being identified as a Chelsea fan”.
While Salama made a rapid return to work, he has since acknowledged the impact of the incident and has said he wants to “pause, reflect on my personal priorities and explore other experiences”.
Main image credit: Kantar