Ad group WPP to investigate alleged misconduct by CEO

Robyn Valdez
April 5, 2018

The Journal also reported that WPP's board was examining whether Sir Martin misused company assets, citing unnamed sources.

"The Board of WPP has appointed independent counsel to conduct an investigation in response to an allegation of personal misconduct against Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer of WPP", WPP confirmed in a statement to AdWeek.

According to the company, the allegations levelled against Sorrell are not financially material to WPP.

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Sir Martin, who has been at the helm of WPP for more than three decades, has said he rejects the allegations "unreservedly".

Wieser wrote in his report Tuesday that anyone who might follow Sorrell could "bring new ideas to the holding company and lead a rebound that we think will eventually occur, and may already have enough clout internally to execute on those ideas". This allegation is being investigated by a law firm. In his own statement, Sorrell rejected the allegation while recognizing the company has to investigate.

The statement added: "I understand that this process will be completed shortly". When Sorrell bought a 30 percent stake in Wire and Plastic Products, a shopping basket manufacturer, in 1985, there was little to suggest that it would go on to become the world's leading ad agency. The London-based company had billings of $74 billion and 2017 revenue of more than $19 billion. From here, he built the advertising empire that now boasts 3,000 offices in 112 countries.

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Sir Martin has been Britain's highest-paid CEO for years, earning around £70m in 2015 before shareholders cut his pay to £48m the following year. He was knighted in 2000. "Just to be accused of it is going to taint him and the share price in the near-term".

Shares in the company are now trading -1.98 percent as of 12.43 PM (GMT).

The investigation, which is being led by an independent counsel, comes at a hard time for WPP, with 2017 representing the company's worst year in terms of growth since 2009.

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