WPP Approves Sorrell’s Colossal Pay Package

By Erik Oster 

WPP shareholders approved a £70.4 million ($102.4 million) pay package for CEO Sir Martin Sorrell for 2015 in spite of investor objections, The Wall Street Journal reports

More About Advertising, which contends the pay package may upset clients already angered by a recent report by The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) which found “numerous non-transparent” practices at U.S. media agencies, points out that the figure makes Sorrell by far the highest paid CEO in the U.K. and represents “196 times the average WPP employee’s pay.” His pay package, largely coming through bonuses, incentive stock awards and other benefits, also represents a 65% increase from the previous year. 

The pay package arrives despite considerable investor objection. In a recent meeting, 33.5% of investors voted against it. The Wall Street Journal points out that the number excludes abstentions, which, it says, “can be viewed as a milder form of protest.” Ahead of the meeting, the publication states, some shareholder advisor groups characterized the pay package as “excessive” and “unacceptable.” Proxy adviser Pensions & Investment Research Consultants Ltd. recommended that WPP shareholders oppose the pay package, while Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. advised them to back it. 


The head of WPP’s compensation committee, John Hood, said in the company’s annual report that “while the value of Sir Martin Sorrell’s award is very large, it was the result of an outstanding set of returns to share owners,” reflecting the fact that WPP’s shares rose some 16% in 2015.