WPP Shareholders Approve Sorrell's Pay Package By Wide Margin

Despite loud cries in recent months from some investors that it was excessive, WPP shareholders approved CEO Martin Sorrell’s princely $50 million pay package for 2013, which represented a whopping 70% hike over the previous year. Sorrell was the highest paid Adland holding company CEO in 2013.

Sorrell’s pay package has been a shareholder hot button on and off for several years now. Two years ago, shareholders rejected it in an advisory vote at the company’s annual general meeting. Last year, after much discussion with shareholders, Sorrell agreed to a cut in salary and reduced opportunities in the company’s long- and short-term incentive plans, and the company’s executive compensation package was approved.

This year a strong majority of voting shares -- about 82% -- were cast in favor of the company’s executive remuneration program, while about 18% voted against it. An even stronger sign that most shareholders support Sorrell’s performance was that he was reelected to the company’s board by a margin of 99.84%.

Other members of the board were also reelected by wide margins. As previously reported, Esther Dyson and Orit Gadiesh did not stand for re-election and their positions on the WPP Board ended effective today.

At the meeting the company reported that company revenues for the first five months of the year were up 9.5% to $7.37 billion with organic revenue growth (which excludes the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and currency fluctuations) was up 7.6%.

Commenting on results for April and May in North America, company Chairman Philip Lader reported that organic growth in the region was 4.6% -- “a slight improvement over the first quarter”--  while the region had “particularly strong growth in media investment management.” Performing less well, he said, were the “custom parts of the Group’s data investment management and branding & identity and healthcare businesses.”

Overall, said Lader, “the pattern for 2014 looks very similar to 2013, perhaps with slightly increased client confidence, enhanced by slightly stronger global GDP growth forecasts and the mini-quadrennial events,” including the Winter Olympics, World Cup and mid-term Congressional Elections. 

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