WPP Founder Sir Martin Sorrell Quits As CEO

16 April, 2018, 11:54 | Author: Lora Ball
  • Sir Martin Sorrell has overseen the transformation of WPP from a small maker of shopping trolleys to a global advertising giant

Sir Martin Sorrell could make nearly £20m from WPP shares over the next five years despite stepping down as chief executive of the world's biggest advertising group on Saturday.

The announcement comes following the conclusion of an investigation into alleged misuse of WPP money by Sir Martin. It made no further comment but repeated a previous statement that the allegation did not involve amounts that were material to the company.

The maximum number of shares Sir Martin may be awarded if WPP meets certain targets is 1.65 million.

Sir Martin Sorrell, who has been at the helm of the firm for the past 33 years, announced on Saturday evening he was stepping aside.

Roberto Quarta, Chairman of WPP, becomes executive chairman until the appointment of a new chief executive officer, while Mark Read, chief executive officer of Wunderman and WPP Digital, and Andrew Scott, WPP corporate development director and chief operating officer, Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers of WPP.

Sorrell was the highest-paid CEO among FTSE 100 companies in both 2015 and 2016, according to a study released past year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the High Pay Centre. "It has been a passion, focus and source of energy for so long".

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Sir Martin said a succession plan had been in place "for some time" and a "new generation of management" were well placed to "deal with the geographic and technological opportunities and challenges" faced by the industry.

In March WPP reported its weakest annual results since the financial crisis, with Sir Martin describing 2017 as "not a pretty year" for the company even though pre-tax profits were just over £2bn.

Sorrell, who is among the highest paid British executives, earned over $100 million in 2015 and 2016.

In his time the group expanded to own top creative agencies including J. Walter Thompson and Young & Rubicam, as well as media planners and buyers, market-research firms and public relations groups such as Finsbury.

He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. Sorrell will be available to assist with the transition. "Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you ... now Back to the Future".

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