Embattled Sorrell exits CEO post at WPP

Embattled Sorrell exits CEO post at WPP

It follows an internal investigation into an allegation of personal misconduct against Sorrell, which WPP said has concluded. "Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you ... now Back to the Future".

Whoever takes over could find keeping such a sprawling empire together an nearly an impossible task: WPP employs more than 200,000 staff in 400 separate ad businesses in more than 3,000 offices in 112 countries.

"Martin changed an industry inventing a lot of what became the model for the big holding company along the way", says David Jones, the former global chief executive of Havas. "During this time, the company has been successful because it has valued and nurtured outstanding talent at every level - within and well beyond our leadership teams", he said. Sorrell was set to join the rest of the board early next week for scheduled meetings ahead of the company's quarterly results, making a quick resolution of the probe nearly inevitable. "However, there will be great interest in resolving the full-time CEO role as soon as possible". So if WPP does well, I do well, and others in the company do well.

For years, the board supported his outsize pay packages amid shareholder complaints because he delivered. "Most of my wealth, if not all of it, is and has been for the last 31 years tied up in the success of WPP".

WPP on 1 March lowered its long-term profit outlook after reporting its worst annual performance since the financial crisis, capping a string of disappointments that put the ad industry's elder statesman on the defensive.

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The longest-serving CEO on the FTSE 100 blue chip index, Sorrell built WPP into one of Britain's biggest companies by three decades of relentless dealmaking. Its shares are down around 30 percent this year.

Sorrell also mentioned that a new generation of management, led by Mark Read and Andrew Sorrell WPP corporate development director and COO, Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers of WPP.

"Obviously I am sad to leave WPP after 33 years", Sorrell said in a statement.

Chairman Roberto Quarta takes over as executive chairman. Read will be responsible for clients, operating companies and people, while Scott will focus on financial and operational performance and the ongoing reorganization of the group's portfolio, he said.

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