Marketing and communication services firm WPP Scangroup #ticker:SCAN chief executive Bharat Thakrar has sold 6.5 million shares of the Nairobi Securities Exchange #ticker:NSE -listed company, worth an estimated Sh143 million.
The share sale has seen his stake in the company firm drop to 11.96 per cent in the year ended December from 13.68 per cent the year before, as per the company’s latest annual report.
Mr Thakrar confirmed the trades, but declined to comment further on the transaction.
His ownership has declined from a high of 28.35 per cent in 2007, a wealth concentration that the billionaire has moved to diversify over the years.
His remaining stake in Scangroup is valued at nearly Sh1 billion, based on the company’s closing price of Sh22 per share on Tuesday.
Mr Andrew White –a co-founder and former director of the company— also sold 3.7 milion shares worth Sh82.9 million over the same period Mr Thakrar was executing his trades.
Mr White’s interest in Scangroup consequently fell to a new low of 1.28 per cent from 2.27 per cent in 2015.
He has reduced his holdings from a high of 16.46 per cent in 2007 through several transactions over the years including selling part of the shares to UK-based conglomerate WPP that now controls the company with a 50.1 per cent stake.
The entry of WPP has seen a flurry of mergers and acquisitions at Scangroup, in line with the multinational’s global strategy of pursuing growth by taking over rival marketing services firms.
Scangroup’s net earnings have, however, been volatile in recent years, more than tripling from Sh244.4 million in 2007 to peak at Sh911.1 million in 2011 and then nearly halving to Sh460.3 million last year.
The company’s share price has dropped 56 per cent from highs of Sh50 in March 2015 when the last bull market ended.
Scangroup says it will continue to implement its strategy of offering integrated marketing services across more African countries to attract and retain multinational clients –the biggest spenders in campaigns targeting consumers.
The company’s services include research, media buying and public relations.
“We believe that delivering global best practice across multiple markets to our clients will cement our relationships with them,” Scangroup says in the report.