WPP denies it will refuse Sir Martin Sorrell pay package

WPP has denied reports that have suggested it could refuse a £13m compensation package for chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

Sir Martin Sorrell: being given a £13m compensation package
Sir Martin Sorrell: being given a £13m compensation package

According to The Sunday Telegraph, WPP chairman Philip Lader has hinted that Sorrell’s compensation package could be reduced if the majority of shareholders vote against the figure.

However, a spokesman for the company, which owns Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe, denied that Lader is set to refuse the remuneration.

The spokesman said: ‘We don’t want the message to come across that we are planning to back down at the AGM. The decision to award the package has come from international benchmarking and exercising the best commercial judgement.’

The stance comes after the announcement that WPP chief executive Sorrell will be given pay and shares worth close to £13m at the company's upcoming annual general meeting.

Since the announcement, WPP has faced revolt over the decision and faces a clash with investors at its annual general meeting on 13 June at The Convention Centre, Dublin.

One shareholder advisory firm, ISS, has fuelled the revolt by recommending investors vote against the deal. The report highlighted a ‘substantial enhancement’ of Sorrell’s pay package and ‘a low level of transparency in the remuneration report’.

The shareholder opposition erupted when WPP first announced it was increasing Sorrell’s base salary by 30 per cent to £1.3m – the first increase since 2007. This also included the raising of his potential long-term bonus to 500 per cent of his salary.

The news comes after Sorrell's much-publicised disagreement with Chime Communications chairman Lord Bell. Sorrell suggested that Bell's buy-out of some Bell Pottinger agencies has been made under 'strange' financial terms.

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