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Wednesday 21 August 2019

WPP offloads post-production business

The Farm, which worked on Downton Abbey, is the latest in a series of sell-offs by the advertising giant.

The post production firm, The Farm, which worked on Downton Abbey, has been sold (ITV)
The post production firm, The Farm, which worked on Downton Abbey, has been sold (ITV)

By Simon Neville, Press Association City Editor

Advertising giant WPP has sold a majority stake in its post-production business, which worked on hits including ITV’s Downton Abbey and the BBC’s Baptise series.

The deal for The Farm, which was bought by US rival Picture Shop, is the latest sell-off from WPP as part of new boss Mark Read’s plans to slim down the business.

WPP initially bought its 75% stake in The Farm more than 20 years ago under founder and former chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

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WPP has sold several divisions since Sir Martin Sorrell departed (Jonathan Brady/PA)

But since he left following allegations of misconduct, new chief executive Mr Read has vowed to cut “non-core” divisions.

The deal is thought to be worth around £50 million and The Farm was advised by Cavendish.

WPP said: “The sale is in line with WPP’s new strategy as set out in December 2018, a key element of which is to focus on its main areas of business and simplify its operations through the disposal of non-core assets.”

The company has seen a major shake-up since Sir Martin left last year, with more than 30 divisions sold, bringing in around £850 million. Advertisers have struggled to keep loyal customers in recent years, with the continued dominance of Google and Facebook in the space.

Next on Mr Read’s list is data and market research division Kantar, which could fetch around £3.5 billion and is responsible for 15% of all WPP sales.

Meanwhile, Sir Martin also revealed his new advertising business venture, S4 Capital, is set to buy Australia-based marketing tech firm Biztech for an undisclosed sum.

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