WPP Scangroup will hold a unique extraordinary general meeting to obtain shareholder approval to complete the sale of one of its subsidiaries.
The deal comprises the sale of its Kantar business, which includes 80% of Research & Marketing Group Investments, 100% of Millward Brown East Africa and its shareholding (through Scangroup Mauritius) in Millward Brown Nigeria and Millward Brown West Africa (with interests in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal and the United Kingdom). The buyer is Kantar Square Two, which is owned by Bain Capital.
Earlier this month Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) authorized listed firms to publish their results online, pay out dividends and appoint auditors without summoning shareholders – and have these decisions ratified the next time that shareholders meet at an annual general meeting.
However, a listed company is still required to obtain shareholder approval before selling shares in a subsidiary that results in it ceasing to be a part of the company. WPP Scangroup’s CEO Bharat Thakar then sought court approval to hold a virtual meeting of shareholders to conclude the deal.
The Court ruled that Scangroup could go ahead as long as the CMA’s rules on adequately sharing information with shareholders, processing their feedback, questions and voting are facilitated, understand and observed.
This is a first-of-its-kind session but expect more companies to try this as May and June are when most annual general meeting’s (AGM) are held.
EGM Details: Registration is now open, for shareholders to be able to vote at the May 27 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of Scangroup by sending in their proxies, up through May 25. Shareholders are to register using their phones, and after verification, they will get access to transaction documents. They can email or send in questions, for clarification, that Scangroup will compile and share its responses with all shareholders before the May 27 meeting which shareholders will watch via a live stream. Results of the shareholder vote will be published within 24 hours.
Deal Size: The amount due to be paid to WPP Scangroup is $49.7 million, plus a $3.3 million share of the 2019 profit, that will result in a total deal amount valued at about $53.1 million (~Ksh 5.7 billion).
Shareholder Bonus: It is expected that about 40% of the Kantar sale gains will come back to shareholders in the form of a special dividend.
Impact of the Deal: The sale will result in a one-off gain for WPP Scangroup in 2020 and a reduction of revenue from 2021. The discontinued operations accounted for Kshs 3.3 billion (26%) of Scangroup’s Kshs 12.5 billion revenue as well as 65% of its Kshs 835 million pre-tax profit in 2019. The deal will also remove Kshs 4.1 billion of assets, held for sale at the end of 2019, from Scangroup’s balance sheet going forward.
Deal Background: From 2018, WPP sought a buyer for Kantar through Goldman Sachs, Ardea Partners, Lazard Freres and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. This resulted in bids from four private equity firms, and in July 2019, WPP agreed to sell 60% of Kantar to Bain Capital. WPP, which had an option to buy the business, will instead remain a 40% shareholder in, and do business with, Kantar.
Deadlines: The valuation was arrived at before the global extent of the coronavirus outbreak was known, and the November 2019 deal has a long stop date of June 30, 2020.
Deal Advisors: Anjarwalla & Khanna (legal) and Dyer & Blair Investment Bank (valuation). Three independent, non-executive, directors of Scangroup, Patricia Ithau, Richard Omwela and Pratul Shah, oversaw the transaction details on behalf of shareholders.
Edits: (May 29)
- Final Results of the vote, that had been audited by PwC were published on the Scangroup website early on Friday May 29. They showed that 88% of the registered owners had participated and had voted 99.98% in favor of the Kantar deal.
- Here is a video stream of the EGM
- Here are the questions posed by shareholders ahead of the meeting and responses from Scangroup.
Edit (August 7): Scangroup booked a net gain on disposal of Kshs 2.24 billion in the sale, in the first half of 2020 and reported sales of Kshs 1.09 billion down from Kshs 1.37 billion, with the dip attributed to advertising cutback by clients during COVID. It also booked Kshs 329 million as a provision from bad debts owed by a parastatal (government agency) client, a sharp rise from 53 million in the same period the previous year, and an operating loss of Kshs -267 million, for the period.
But as a result of the sale of the discontinued operation, first-half profit was Kshs 1.5 billion, up from KShs 250 million in 2019, and a special interim dividend of Kshs 8 per share will be paid later this month.
$1 = Kshs 107.