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Bharat Thakrar resigns as Scangroup CEO

By Fredrick Obura | March 24th 2021
Ex-Scangroup CEO Bharat Thakrar (PHOTO: FILE)

NAIROBI, KENYA: WPP Scangroup Board has accepted the resignation of Bharat Thakrar as Chief Executive Officer of the company.

In a statement, the Board said a probe into gross misconduct allegations against him will continue. “Thakrar has also resigned as the director of the company’s affiliates and subsidiaries,” a statement from the company states.

Thakrar and chief finance officer Satyabrata Das were pushed out of the C-suite of the listed company in mid-February for what the board described as allegations of “gross misconduct".

In a cautionary statement, the board said the two senior managers were asked to step aside "to allow for an investigation into allegations of gross misconduct and possible offences in their capacity as senior executives and employees of the company."

Thakrar’s name is synonymous with advertising in Kenya, having started Scanad as a one-man agency in 1982.

In several interviews, he has talked of how he honed his skills in advertising from his father who was a commercial director at Skyline Advertising Agency, the largest advertising agency in Kenya at the time.

“I remember accompanying him to work where he would put me in an empty office to study in preparation for my Certificate of Primary Education examinations,” said Thakrar in an earlier interview with The Standard.

Scanad grew to Scangroup and was listed at the NSE in 2006.

Six years later, Thakrar ceded a controlling stake to WPP Group, a British advertising firm, with the company changing its name to WPP Scangroup. It has a physical presence in 25 African countries.

WPP has a 52 per cent stake of the issued share capital through its subsidiaries, Cavendish Square Holding BV and Russell Square Holding.

In his 40-year career, Thakrar has overseen numerous advertising campaigns for top brands.

They include Rally Gum, Fiat Uno, Princess Patra, Knorr Soup, National Bank and Trade Bank in the early days of the firm’s precursor, Scanad, in the 1980s and 1990s.

In mid to late 2000s, there was Tusker Milele, Kenya Airways, Niko Na Safaricom, and most recently, ‘Stori ibambe’, ‘Never miss a moment’ and ‘This is my Kenya’ campaigns for Safaricom and several others for Coca-Cola, Unilever and Airtel.

He and his wife Sadhna have the largest individual shareholding at Scangroup at 10.48 per cent, according to the latest filings with CMA.

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