WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell Resigns After Probe

Mae Love
April 15, 2018

And late last night - amidst investigations into charges of personal misconduct by the WPP board - Sir Martin Sorrell packed up his things and shockingly announced that he was saying ta-ta to the CEO's position and moving out of the corner office. Meanwhile, WPP Chairman Roberto Quarta will run the agency until a new CEO is chosen.

In a statement, he said it was "in the best interests of the business if I step down now".

Sorrell made headlines in recent years regarding his sizeable pay at a time when traditional advertising groups struggle against fierce competition from the likes of Google and Facebook.

Sorrell, who has led the firm for 33 years, said it was "in the interests of the business" to step down. It said in a statement that "the allegations do not involve amounts which are material to WPP".

Sorrell's exit caps a remarkable turnaround for the 73-year-old, whose iron grip on WPP helped characterise its rise into the world's largest advertising company.

"Yes he was relentless and richly rewarded - but let's not forget Sir Martin Sorrell built a global advertising empire from nothing", said Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times newspaper.

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. It has been a passion, focus and source of energy for so long.

WPP said its "investigation into an allegation of misconduct" against Sorrell had concluded.

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Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising company WPP, attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017.

He said that he leaves the company in "very good hands", with Read, Scott and the management team at all levels having the knowledge and abilities to take WPP to "even greater heights, as well as capitalise on the geographic and functional opportunities".

Sorrell was one of Britain's most highly paid business leaders, having been paid well over £200 million since 2013 for running the firm. WPP's shares have lost a third of their value of the past year-far more than rivals facing the same market challenges-as its financial guidance has repeatedly proved too optimistic.

"We have weathered hard storms in the past".

"Nobody, either direct competitors or newly-minted ones can beat the WPP team, as long as you work closely together, whether by client and/or country or digitally".

"I shall miss all of you greatly", he wrote in an email to staff.

Sorrell told staff that WPP had come through hard times before and would do so again, saying he would be available to anyone who wanted advice.

He added: "As a significant share-owner, my commitment to the company, which I founded over 30 years ago, remains absolute - to our people, our clients, our shareholders and all of our many stakeholders". "Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you...now Back to the Future".

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