The research arm of advertising behemoth WPP could be sold following the departure of disgraced founder Sir Martin Sorrell.
Its Kantar division, worth £3.5bn, is reportedly being eyed up by private equity firms and banks after its head Eric Salama contacted them about a possible management buy-out.
Kantar is one of the world’s biggest data firms, collecting statistics for businesses on everything from shopping trends to TV audiences.
The operation employs 30,000 staff in 100 countries and made a £350m profit from £2.7bn of sales last year.
Salama, 57, is one of the top candidates to succeed Sorrell after the former boss was forced out over misconduct claims.
It is understood his preference is to keep WPP together, but is prepared to consider leading Kantar as a separate firm if investors demand it.