MM Awards

WPP investors revolt against board over Sorrell scandal

Tyrone Stewart

Sir Martin SorrellWPP shareholders have made their feelings known over the way that the company’s board of directors dealt with former CEO Sir Martin Sorrell’s sudden resignation amid allegations of improper conduct and misuse of assets.

During the firm’s AGM, it was announced that around around 30 per cent of investors refused to back WPP’s share and bonus scheme, while nearly 17 per cent declined the approval of chairman Roberto Quarta’s re-election to the board.

Sorrell’s shock departure from the company came as it surfaced that he had allegedly used petty cash to pay for sex workers and that he had bullying more junior members of staff. He denies both of the claims made against him.

On the back of his resignation, the former WPP CEO is set to receive nearly £20m in stock options over the next five years, which the company claims it cannot change unless Sorrell is to actually be found guilty of ‘gross misconduct’.

Another issue that comes out of this is that WPP has also said that it “cannot disclose or confirm further details of the allegation,” as reiterated by Quarta during the meeting. This decision is said to be based on legal advice that releasing any report would be a breach of data protection rules.

Following the fiasco over Sorrell’s departure, the company has now launched a review of its policies, though Quarta believes the “board acted appropriately throughout” the entire episode.