Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, the two biggest names in China’s technology industry, are in talks to buy a stake in the $2.5bn (£1.9bn) Chinese operations of WPP Group. Sky News can exclusively reveal that Alibaba, Tencent and China Media Capital Holdings (CMC) are in early-stage discussions about buying roughly 20% of WPP China.Sources said the negotiations, which could take several months to conclude, were expected to value the business at between $2bn (£1.52bn) and $2.5bn.Under the deal, WPP – which is hunting a successor to Sir Martin Sorrell, the 33-year company veteran who stepped down in April following an investigation into his personal conduct – would pool its Chinese agency operations into a new holding company.The consortium comprising Alibaba, Tencent and CMC would then acquire roughly equal shareholdings in the new company, with WPP Group retaining majority ownership and control.Roberto Quarta, WPP’s chairman, is understood to have travelled to China this month with Andrew Scott, one of its co-chief operating officers, to continue talks about the prospective deal.One source cautioned this weekend that the complexity of the transaction meant it could still fall apart.If completed, a deal would underline the rapid convergence of the marketing services and digital technology… Read full this story
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