WPP Group investors voted against CEO Martin Sorrell's pay package on Wednesday at an annual shareholder meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
Sixty percent of shareholders struck down WPP's 2011 remuneration report and Sorrell's pay package in a nonbinding vote that puts increasing pressure on the holding company to reform its compensation practices for senior executives.
The vote came after investor groups urged WPP shareholders to reject the company's pay packages, calling them excessive compared with those of other UK executives. But despite discontent over Sorrell's pay, fewer than 2% of shareholders voted against his re-election.
Sorrell received a $10.5 million pay package in 2011, up 60% compared with the previous year. He defended his pay in a Financial Times editorial on June 5 entitled “Mea culpa – I act like the owner I am.”
Sorrell is the latest executive to face anger over his pay. In the past six weeks, the CEOs of insurer Aviva and publisher Trinity Mirror both quit after investors rejected their compensation packages.
Executive compensation at rival holding company Publicis Group also came under scrutiny this year after it said CEO Maurice Levy would receive about $20 million in delayed bonuses.
WPP said Wednesday that its PR revenue was up 7% in the January-to-April period, compared with 2011.