Martin Sorrell Steps Down As CEO Of World's Largest Ad Company

Martin Sorrell Quits Advertising Agency WPP Following Claims of Personal Misconduct & Misuse of Company Funds

WPP announced in a statement on Saturday that its chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell had stepped down with immediate effect.

Mark Read, chief executive of WPP's Wunderman business, and Andrew Scott, European chief operating officer, have been made joint operating chiefs. In its 2016 annual report, WPP said succession planning was underway and a pool of internal and external candidates had been identified.

The decision to step down, which has happened with immediate effect, comes after WPP hired an independent counsel to launch a probe into accusations levelled at Sorrell - though they are not financially material to WPP.

Despite his eye-watering salary, an ugly past business year and personal misconduct allegations still left unresolved, the industry's response to Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP resignation smacks more of effusive obituary than critical analysis. It has been a passion, focus, and source of energy for so long.

Sir Martin, 73, from WPP, is in line for a £19 million payout having concluded that it was "in the best interests of the business" for him to resign. 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.

"It's favourable for WPP that the issue was resolved fast enough that it wouldn't have become a distraction, and the interim leadership choice looks like a positive move as well", said Brian Wieser, a media analyst at Pivotal Research LLC, by email.

The acquisitions included the J. Walter Thompson Group, the Young & Rubicam Group and the Ogilvy Group.

"Within the past year, he's come under pressure because of his company's performance - WPP has seen poorer-than-expected growth and slumping stocks".

Present in 112 countries, WPP serves clients including Ford, Unilever, P&G and a string of major corporations around the world. But it has been hit in the last 18 months by a downturn in spending from consumer goods groups Unilever and P&G, and the loss of some big accounts.

The company said Sorrell would be available to assist with the transition, and the man synonymous with the British marketing group told the staff they would come through this hard time.

But Whittaker said: "We would not read too much into this given Sir Martin's age but, more importantly, that WPP is his creation and he would not want to do anything that would be seen as damaging the company".

The world's biggest ad company's share price was 3.5% down at 8am this morning but has ticked back up to -1.26% down from previous closing to 1,173p a share, despite speculation over the future of the company now Sorrell is leaving after 33 years.

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