Martin Sorrell's WPP pay plunged to £13.9m for last year in charge

Former chief executive’s 2017 remuneration was below £70.4m in 2015 and £48.1m in 2016

Sir Martin Sorrell, the former chief executive of WPP, pocketed £13.9m for his last year in charge of the world’s largest advertising services group – far below the £70m he took home in 2015.

Sorrell, who resigned earlier this month over a scandal involving an investigation into alleged financial misconduct at the company he founded, was one of the UK’s best-paid business leaders, earning more than £200m from pay and lucrative – but highly controversial – reward schemes in the past five years alone.

Sorrell’s total remuneration of £13.9m for 2017 was revealed in WPP’s latest annual report, published on Friday.

This was well down on the £48.1m he received in 2016 and £70.4m in 2015, one of the largest paydays in UK corporate history.

Last year he received no bonus, compared to £3m in 2016, and £10m in share award performance payouts, compared to £41.5m the previous year.

However, Sorrell is still in line for almost £20m in payouts from WPP over the next five years, as part of the deal struck to leave the advertising group he founded more than three decades ago.

Roberto Quarta, the WPP chairman, used his letter to shareholders in the annual report to reassure investors the company is prepared for life after its founder following Sorrell’s shock exit, which came after the company’s worst performance in almost a decade in 2017.

“The departure of the group chief executive was, of course, a difficult moment for WPP,” he said. “The board’s succession planning has always considered two scenarios: the planned transition over time and the unforeseen event. We would not have chosen the latter but that is what happened and we were prepared for it.”

WPP has appointed two senior executives, Mark Read and Andrew Scott, to run the business day-to-day as joint chief operating officers while a new chief executive is found. Read, the head of the digital agency Wunderman and WPP Digital, has declared his interest in taking over from Sorrell.

A series of investor rebellions against Sorrell’s pay forced WPP’s board to cut his remuneration dramatically. The biggest revolt came at the 2012 annual general meeting, during the so-called “shareholder spring”, when 60% of investors rejected his annual pay package.

Sorrell has kept a low profile since his resignation, spending most of his time in New York. However, earlier this week he made his first appearance at an advertising industry event, a meeting of the Thirty Club at London’s Berkeley Hotel where the prime minister, Theresa May, was guest speaker.


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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