WPP eyes majority Portland stake

WPP is in talks to take a majority controlling stake in poster-buying specialist Portland by buying out the stake held by Dentsu-owned CDP.

The deal would give WPP a 61 per cent share in the company. WPP currently holds 33 per cent, while CDP holds 28 per cent. Portland’s chairman Dennis Sullivan holds 29 per cent and managing director Ian Russell six per cent.

It is understood WPP’s rationale is to use Portland as one of the companies offered in its emerging global media operation MindShare, the combination of JWT Media and The Network.

But the negotiations are believed to have stalled because Dentsu is preparing to float.

Sullivan, who joined Portland four months after it was launched as a joint enterprise in the Seventies between J Walter Thompson and CDP, has been the driving force behind the company’s international expansion into South America, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Three years ago Portland negotiated a deal to acquire rival specialist Poster Publicity Limited, but the deal was scuppered by WPP chairman Martin Sorrell who thought the price was too high.

Portland’s key advertisers in the UK include Gallaher, Kellogg, Scottish Courage, Camelot and Panasonic. It has total billings of 160m, with 80m billings in the UK.

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