WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has retained the title of Adland’s Pay King for 2014.
Total remuneration for Sorrell last year was 42.978 million British Pounds -- or about $66 million at today’s exchange rates, according to the ad-marketing holding company’s just issued 2014 Annual Report and Accounts. He was the highest paid Adland chief in 2013 as well, earning a total of about $50.4 million at the exchange rates then in effect.
Word of the big payday comes a little more than a month after WPP reported that its 2014 revenue was up 4.6% to 11.529 billion British Pounds. In dollars, reported revenue was up 9.9% to $18.956 billion.
And the company’s organic revenue growth for the year was 8.2% -- higher than the other major holding companies, although an accounting change by WPP last year had many financial analysts using its reported organic net sales growth of 3.3% as more representative of core business growth for 2014.
While the company had a good year in terms of financial performance, Sorrell’s huge paycheck has already created a stir in the UK, where reports have speculated that many company shareholders may vote the package down at the company’s annual meeting. That happened several years ago (the vote was advisory only), after which the company held discussions with major shareholders and negotiated a decrease in salary for Sorrell and limits on certain incentive pay opportunities.
Most of Sorrell’s remuneration came in the form of bonuses, stock awards and incentive plans. The so-called “fixed” portion of his pay, including salary, pension and other benefits, totaled a little over 3 million pounds or about $4.6 million.
The WPP chief’s pay package was tops among his holding company peers. Omnicom CEO John Wren earned total compensation of around $24 million, while Interpublic Chief Michael Roth brought home about $13 million. MDC Partners CEO Miles Nadal earned total remuneration of $16.8 million although he’ll be returning some money — about $8.6 million — to the company as a result of an ongoing SEC investigation looking at the firm’s accounting practices and stock trading activity. The $8.6 million includes expenses red-flagged by the SEC over a period from 2009 to 2014.
Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy earned what the company described as total gross compensation in 2014 of 4.5 million euros or about $5 million. He
also exercised stock options worth about $16.4 million, bringing total income to more than $21 million.