WPP Founder Sir Martin Sorrell Quits As CEO

News Corp's BSkyB Takeover

News Corp's BSkyB Takeover

The chief executive of the world's largest advertising agency WPP has stepped down following allegations of personal misconduct through the misuse of company assets. Meanwhile, CEO of Wunderman and WPP Digital, Mark Read, as well as WPP corporate development director and COO, Europe, Andrew Scott, have been appointed as joint COOs of WPP.

But while the chief executive agreed that some parts of the business would be attractive to buyers, he questioned who the likely purchasers of WPP's creative networks - J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Y&R and Grey - might be.

"As a founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that", Sorrell said in the statement late Saturday.

WPP said that the probe had concluded, adding "the allegation did not involve amounts that are material".

WPP released a statement stating that the change would become effective immediately and that the advertising behemoth's chairman Roberto Quarta would become executive chairman until the company could appoint a new chief executive.

Sorrell, who has led the firm for 33 years, said it was "in the interests of the business" to step down. Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you...now Back to the Future.




"It's favorable 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. "However, there will be great interest in resolving the full-time CEO role as soon as possible".

He owns shares in WPP worth more than £200m‎, while his annual remuneration packages - he earned £70m two years ago - have made him a target for critics of lavish boardroom pay.

The ad giant has been under pressure since it was forced to admit this month that it had launched...

Sorrell's departure, first reported by The Guardian, comes amid reports that he is under investigation for some as-yet-undisclosed improprieties.

"Yes he was relentless and richly rewarded - but let's not forget Sir Martin Sorrell built a global advertising empire from nothing", said Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times newspaper.

The era of advertising Sorrell ushered in has been about scale as a handful of big players - WPP, France's Publicis and Havas, Japan's Dentsu and New York-based Interpublic and Omnicom - have hoovered up smaller agencies.

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