WPP Shareholders Vote By Proxy Against Sorrell’s Payout

CEO may have to reconsider it

WPP chief Martin Sorrell may finally have to make some concessions about his remuneration.

At the company’s annual general meeting in Dublin today, 59.5 percent of absentee shareholders, who voted by proxy, rejected his $20.24 million pay package. Votes from shareholders who attended the meeting are still being finalized, but with those proxies already in it’s unlikely the recommendations of WPP’s board will be able bridge that gap.

At today's shareholder meeting, WPP also said the company stands to make a $50 million gain off of its $5 million strategic investment in Facebook marketing platform Buddy Media, which is now being acquired by Salesforce.com. Just before that deal was announced in early June, WPP said the company would be the preferred ad platform for all of the Facebook buys at WPP's GroupM operating units. WPP made its investment in Buddy Media in October 2010.

The company also updated its results, indicating that revenue rose 4 percent in the first four months, which is in line with first-quarter results announced in April. (Like-for-like revenue excludes the financial impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations.) Reported revenue in dollars climbed almost 5 percent to $5.1 billion during those months. 

North America, which posted constant currency growth of 5.1 percent and like-for-like growth of 1.7 percent in the first third of the year, showed stronger growth in WPP’s advertising, media and healthcare operations. Consumer insight and public relations businesses remained slower, however.

Latin America continues to show the strongest growth of all of WPP’s sub-regions, with constant-currency revenue rising 16.1 percent and like-for-like revenue increasing 14 percent in the first four months of the year. WPP said the Middle East, as in 2011, remains the “most challenged” sub-region although results in April showed a significant improvement over the first quarter.