Home » Kenyan tycoon Bharat Thakrar threatens $30-million lawsuit against UK group

Kenyan tycoon Bharat Thakrar threatens $30-million lawsuit against UK group

WPP-Scangroup drama: Thakrar's claims of manipulation and discrimination

by Yusuf Abdulfatai
Bharat Thakrar

Bharat Thakrar, Kenyan advertising tycoon and founder of WPP-Scangroup, plans to file a £24-million ($30.2 million) lawsuit against WPP, the UK-based parent company. Thakrar claims that discriminatory actions by WPP resulted in his removal from the business he established in 1982.

This legal development adds a new layer to the ongoing corporate saga, as the Kenyan businessman takes a stand against alleged discriminatory practices and neo-colonialist tactics employed by the UK-based advertising giant.

Thakrar, who established Scanad in 1982, eventually evolving into WPP-Scangroup in 2013, asserts that WPP discriminated against him and Scangroup’s finance chief, Satya Das. He contends that the British multinational breached Kenyan law by “clearly targeting” executives of “Indian extraction” within the company.

WPP-Scangroup drama: Thakrar’s claims of manipulation and discrimination

WPP presently holds a 56-percent stake in WPP-Scangroup, while Thakrar retains a 10.5-percent stake. Thakrar claims that WPP manipulated itself into a controlling position on the board of WPP-Scangroup before making allegations against him, leading to his resignation in 2021.

Thakrar also accused WPP of intentionally leaking details of an internal investigation into alleged financial and personal misconduct to local media, causing significant ‘reputational damage.’ He argues that the disciplinary proceedings were discriminatory and amounted to neo-colonialist practices, given the alleged focus on executives of Indian descent.

Leadership transition and current valuation

Since March 2022, WPP-Scangroup has been under the leadership of Patricia Ithau, a seasoned business executive with more than 30 years of experience in companies such as Unilever, Diageo/East African Breweries Limited, and L’Oreal.

At the time of drafting this report, WPP-Scangroup’s shares were trading at Ksh2.18, with a market capitalization of Ksh942 million ($6.65 million). Thakrar’s stake is currently valued at Ksh98.9 million ($0.7 million).

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