WPP sells majority stake in sports agency Two Circles after four years

Two Circles, which works with Wimbledon, sold by WPP

WPP has sold its majority stake in data analytics and sports marketing agency Two Circles to Bruin Sports Capital for an undisclosed sum, just over four years after it first invested.

Two Circles sat within WPP’s ESP Properties division, an arm of GroupM, which served rightsholders in sports and entertainment.

However, the holding company has been on a major drive to consolidate over the past 18 months, which most recently saw the sale of fellow data analytics firm Kantar. Like the $4bn Kantar deal with Bain Capital, WPP will continue to retain a minority stake in Two Circles.

“As we look to the future of the sports economy, everything we do will trace back to how well we can leverage consumer data intelligence to spur growth,” said George Pyne, founder and chief executive of Bruin Sports Capital.

“Two Circles has been way ahead of the industry on this and has developed a new breed of agency that serves every business unit of a sports organization. We are excited to have them formally join Bruin and look forward to working even more closely with their great team.”

Two Circles counts the NFL, Premier League, Uefa, Formula 1 and Wimbledon among the clients it works with globally. The eight-year-old agency’s services include aggregating and analyzing consumer data to inform new business and marketing strategies.

At the time of WPP’s investment in May 2015, Two Circles employed 55 people and worked with rightsholders across 10 international markets. It has since grown to 180 employees in four offices - New York, Los Angeles, London, and Bern – who work with clients on four continents.

Gareth Balch, Two Circles co-founder and chief executive, said: “The sports industry is moving from a B2B model to a direct-to-consumer model where growth will be centred around a direct relationship between sports and fans. Over the last eight years, we believe we have built proven models that can take sports properties on this journey. With Bruin's backing, experience, and relationships in global sport, we have the perfect platform to enter the next phase of commercial growth – both for our clients and as an agency."

The news follows CVC Capital Partners and The Jordan Company recently committing an initial $600m to Bruin’s investment fund.

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