Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Sorrell quits as CEO of advertiser WPP

WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell quits advertising agency Sir Martin Sorrell steps down from WPP following claims of personal misconduct
Orlando Vargas | 15 April, 2018, 19:42

Those close to WPP have been keen to play down suggestions of any rift between Sorrell and the rest of the board, noting they stood by him during a series of shareholder revolts over his pay in previous years.

Chairman Roberto Quarta will become executive chairman until a new chief executive is found, while Mark Read, a WPP digital executive, and Andrew Scott, chief operating officer, Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers.

Sorrell will remain with the company for an unspecified time "to assist with the transition" pending the confirmation of his successor or successors.

"That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside".

Sir Martin said last week that he rejected the allegation unreservedly but recognise that the company has to investigate it.

Sorrell has been for personal misconduct since April 3. "I think most analysts and investors when adding up the sum of the parts of WPP would answer that it is to break it up", said Alex DeGroote, an analyst with Cenkos Securities.

Mr Sorrell is among the most influential advertising professionals globally and also the longest-serving FTSE-100 chief executive, who has run WPP since setting up the business in 1985.

WPP PLC is a parent company that, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the provision of communications and marketing services worldwide.

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One person familiar with the process said the investigation was unlikely to be resolved before the end of next week.

Shares in WPP are expected to fall tomorrow when the markets open.

"His departure will leave the company he built virtually from ‎scratch facing profound questions about its future direction", he said.

The media empire has kicked off a hunt for a new boss after the 73-year-old advertising king abruptly quit after growing "fed up and p***d off" during an investigation into alleged misconduct.

Several people who have attended WPP board meetings in the past identified Sol Trujillo, a former US telecoms boss, as a non-executive director who sometimes asked the most challenging questions.

However, the firm has struggled in the past year, with shares falling back from heights above £19 in February to less than £12 at the close of markets last Friday.

WPP declined to comment on Saturday evening, while Sir Martin could not be reached for comment.

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