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Sir Martin Sorrell steps down as CEO, WPP

17 April, 2018, 18:44 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • WPP lines up potential replacement for Sorrell

Martin Sorrell's sudden exit from WPP marks a shocking end to the career of a chief executive who through sheer force of personality made it the world's biggest advertising firm.

Sorrell unexpectedly threw in the towel on Saturday evening in the wake of an investigation into allegations of misconduct, abruptly ending a glittering 33 year at its helm, during which time he built the business into the world's largest advertising agency.

Sorrell denied all the allegations against him but said in a letter to staff on Saturday that the "current disruption" was "putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business".

However, industry and financial analysts said that they would not read much into that speculation due in part to the age of Sir Martin, and even more importantly, WPP was and still is something he created and there lacks a likelihood that he would want to damage the business. Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you... now back to the future.

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.

The allegations against Sorrell, who founded the firm, do not include monetary amounts which are "material to WPP", the statement added.

Chairman Roberto Quarta will become executive chairman until a new chief executive has been appointed.


He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

Sorrell was the highest-paid CEO among FTSE 100 companies in both 2015 and 2016, according to a study released a year ago by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the High Pay Centre.

WPP has seen its ‎shares fall by almost a third during the last 12 months, although it still has a market capitalisation of more than £15bn.

Sorrell's fall from grace took less than a month after WPP announced on April 3 that it was investigating the allegations.

As a result of his decision to step down, Sorrell will be treated as being retired as per his employment agreement. "But there is nothing that far away from the overall industry average that was affecting WPP at the time". No incoming CEO is going to want to keep the status quo, and will be under very real pressure to make WPP fit for goal to tackle the challenges facing it and the ad industry as a whole. So if WPP does well, I do well, and others in the company do well.

"Those now doing well in adland are the nimble, independent agencies". Trying to restructure a business like WPP when you are still managing post merger integrations and earn outs would be hard and expensive. The holding group employs over 200,000 people in more than 400 companies across 112 countries.

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