Sir Martin Sorrell steps down from WPP ahead of misconduct investigation findings

Sir Martin Sorrell steps down from WPP ahead of misconduct investigation findings

Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP PLC, has stepped down, effective immediately, following the conclusion of a company probe into a personal misconduct allegation.

"The allegation did not involve amounts that are material", it said.

Sorrell told staff that WPP had come through hard times before and would do so again, saying he would be available to anyone who wanted advice.

Roberto Quarta, WPP's chairman, has been appointed executive chairman until the appointment of a new chief executive.

"I will particularly miss the daily interactions with everyone across the world and want to thank them and their families for all they have done, and will do, for WPP", said Martin Sorrell.

"That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside".

The departure of Sorrell, who resigned on Saturday before learning the findings of an internal investigation into alleged personal misconduct, is also being viewed as a potential catalyst for a break-up of WPP.

Sorrell will be treated as having retired, based on the directors' compensation policy, the company said.

"His departure will leave the company he built virtually from ‎scratch facing profound questions about its future direction", he said.


WPP did not give any details of the allegation and Sorrell denied the charges, initially saying that he understood the need to investigate. 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.

Sorrell's 1985 investment in Wire & Plastic Products and string of acquisitions of advertising companies effectively founded WPP, making him an executive seen by some as irreplaceable for his direct access to clients and active hand on a sprawling network of agencies.

Sir Martin was born in London and educated at the Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School before going on to read Economics at Christ's College, Cambridge.

Some multinational advertisers, including P&G, which owns ‎Ariel and Gillette, have signalled their intention to take more of their marketing services activity in-house, reducing the lucrative work for which they are charged by external agencies.

He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

The firm has grown into one of the world's largest communications groups and now has some 3,000 offices. "However, I believe it is in the best interests of the business if I step down now", said founder and CEO Sorrell in a statement.

However, he always fiercely defended his income, saying it was related to how well the company he started from nothing was doing.

Sir Martin Sorrell has quit WPP with immediate effect.

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