As WPP Profits Soar, So Does Sorrell's Paycheck

by , May 7, 2012, 8:03 PM
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Martin-Sorrell-AA1WPP had a very good year in 2011, with profits up 43%. And so did the company’s CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell. His pay package soared as well -- up 60% to about $11 million, according to recently filed company documents. In addition, Sorrell received a roughly $950,000 contribution to his company pension.

By comparison, counterparts at Omnicom and Interpublic Group, John Wren and Michael Roth earned about $15 million and $13 million, respectively, in 2011. And Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy raked in about $4.8 million in total compensation last year. That was in addition to $21.6 million that the Publicis chief received this year under a deferred compensation plan that was tied to performance goals and length of service over the last nine years.

Sorrell’s base salary was about $2 million, with the remainder coming in the form of various bonuses, stock awards and other benefits. Those awards were tied to a number of benchmarks including profit and profit margin goals, financial performance compared to key competitors and a handful of “business achievements” such as “creative reputation recognition,” succession planning, capital effectiveness and acquisition success.

For the first time, the WPP documents stated, Nielsen was added as a key competitor for compensation benchmarking purposes given the “greater significance” of the consumer insights business (via research subsidiary Kantar).

Paul Richardson, the company’s group finance director, also received a nice pay hike -- about 21%, for total remuneration of $4.3 million, while Mark Read, director of strategy and CEO of WPP Digital, received a 47% pay hike to about $2 million.

The bonuses and incentive awards received by the three executives were just a fraction of the roughly $550 million that was paid to managers throughout the company in 2011. 

Last year, many shareholders expressed their dismay with the compensation structure for WPP’s top-tier executives, with more than 40% voting to reject the executive remuneration plan for last year. This year, the company stated, remuneration levels for salaries and various incentive bonus opportunities for the company’s executive directors will remain largely “unchanged.”

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