Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Sir Martin Sorrell steps down as WPP CEO

Sir Martin Sorrell steps down as WPP CEO

Sir Martin Sorrell is bringing the curtain down on a 32-year career as chief executive of WPP Group, the ‎marketing services giant, weeks after its board launched a probe into an allegation of improper personal conduct.

Whoever takes over could find keeping such a sprawling empire together an nearly an impossible task: WPP employs more than 200,000 staff in 400 separate ad businesses in more than 3,000 offices in 112 countries.

The advertising titan resigned Saturday night as WPP announced that an investigation into the matter had concluded, with the firm saying only that "the allegation did not involve amounts that are material".

Sir Martin's resignation will come 10 days after WPP said it had appointed independent counsel to investigate "an allegation of personal misconduct" against him.

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According to a statement from WPP, Chairman Roberto Quarta, has taken over as the executive chairman until the appointment of a new CEO.

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.

"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".

"It wasn't a boardroom battle but the way they behaved in his eyes, the manner they handled the investigation, in the end he thought I'm 73-years old I don't need this s**t", one person close to the process said. It has been a passion, focus and source of energy for so long.

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Analysts have speculated that the sprawling group, which was being restructured after a year of lower spending from some clients, could now sell off some assets if led by different management.

Sorrell was one of Britain's most highly paid business leaders, having been paid well over £200 million since 2013 for running the firm.

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

Present in 112 countries, WPP serves clients including Ford, Unilever, P&G and a string of major corporations around the world. Its shares are down around 30 percent this year. Sorrell will be available to assist with the transition. "Now back to the future".

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