WPP shareholders voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of a plan to move the advertising and marketing services holding company’s headquarters back
to the UK from Ireland.
The company relocated its headquarters to Ireland in 2008 to sidestep new laws that would have sharply increased its tax liabilities, given the amount of revenue it generates in foreign territories. But UK tax policies were recently changed, effective in 2013, favoring UK companies that do a lot of business overseas.
The reincorporation had been approved by shareholders at two separate meetings, both held yesterday -- including a meeting set up by a UK court in Jersey, where the company will be incorporated and where 75% of outstanding shares had to be voted in favor of the move. Nearly 97% of WPP shares were voted in favor of the move at the court meeting.
Then, at a separate general meeting of WPP shareholders, two-thirds of the outstanding shares also had to be voted in favor of the plan, and it passed by a margin of more than 99%.
Shareholders also had to approve the issuing of a new series of stock connected with the move that will replace the existing shares, and did so also by a margin of more than 99%.
The Jersey court will hold a hearing on Dec. 18 to review and most likely approve the relocation and stock reissue plan. Barring unforeseen glitches, the new shares will begin trading on the London Stock Exchange on Jan. 2.
Shareholders also approved by a wide margin a motion to rename the holding company New WPP.