WPP China in talks to sell stake to Alibaba, CMC, Tencent

Sources estimate the stake at hand to be roughly 20% of WPP China, valued at between $2bn (£1.5bn) and $2.5bn.

An image from WPP's 2017 annual report shows its revenue and employee numbers (including associated companies) across the region
An image from WPP's 2017 annual report shows its revenue and employee numbers (including associated companies) across the region

WPP is in preliminary talks, as first reported by Sky News, to sell a minority stake in its China business to a consortium of Alibaba, China Media Capital and Tencent.

Campaign China understands that the topic came out during a visit to China by Roberto Quarta, WPP’s chairman, and Andrew Scott, co-chief operating officer, earlier in July. However, the discussions are understood to be at a very early stage.

Sources estimate the stake at hand to be roughly 20% of WPP China, valued at between $2bn and $2.5bn, which would reportedly be spun off into a new holding company.

WPP has set up various partnerships in the past — with Tencent to establish a social marketing lab and with Alibaba to integrate multiple audience data sources — but this deal, if passed, would position the two Chinese tech giants as equal shareholders instead of rivals fighting for adspend. CMC's founding chairman Ruigang Li has been a non-executive director of WPP since November 2012.

A WPP spokesperson declined to comment.

A version of this story was first reported by Campaign Asia-Pacific

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