WPP CEO quits after three decades building ad empire

16 April, 2018, 11:57 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • WPP CEO quits after three decades building ad empire

Martin Sorrell, who built WPP into the world's biggest advertising agency through 33 years of dealmaking, quit on Saturday after an allegation of personal misconduct. While the timing was sudden (and perhaps calculated to limit immediate PR damage), his exit is not all that surprising.

The investigation into Sorrell has now concluded, WPP said, reiterating that the amounts weren't material. Below, a look at how his exit was greeted on social media.

He said he had 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".

Sources familiar with the situation said that the outcome of the investigation, which is being carried out by USA law firm WilmerHale for WPP chairman Roberto Quarta, will be available by the end of the week.

Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal, has maintained its target price of £13.30 with a "buy" rating for WPP shares despite Sir Martin's departure.

"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.




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. He is one of the most high profile, and best paid, executives in the country.

The acquisitions included the J Walter Thompson Group, the Young & Rubicam Group and the Ogilvy Group.

He previously worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, and was knighted in the Queen's New Year honours list in 2000.

The migration of advertising online and the encroachment into market research of consultancies such as Accenture have compounded the pressures.

Sorrell said in a statement late Saturday that he was sad to leave, with WPP having been his passion and focus for more than three decades.

It added that Sir Martin would be available to assist with the transition. "Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you...now Back to the Future".

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