WPP CEO Martin Sorrell became $88 million richer this week as the result of a payout from a performance-based incentive compensation program at the company known as LEAP. Tax liabilities cut the big payday nearly by half (48.15%).
The windfall came in the form of stock awards that the company confirmed were valued at 62.78 million British pounds, or roughly $88 million at today’s exchange rate.
The payment was related to performance benchmarks for the company from 2011 to 2015 -- including market capitalization, which increased by $14.29 billion and total shareholder return the company said was 134.9%.
It outperformed 95% of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index.
The big payout has already attracted howls of protest from executive compensation watchers in the UK who say that no matter how well WPP performs, Sorrell’s LEAP bonus is too much.
But Sorrell should be used to that by now. He has received huge bonuses for the past several years and total compensation of more than 150 million pounds (about $210 million at today’s rate) since 2010, according to UK newspaper The Guardian.
For the last five or six years, some of WPP’s institutional investors have criticized the company’s executive compensation package and refused to endorse it (by way of advisory vote) at annual meetings.
A few years back, a majority of company shares were voted against the compensation package. Afterward, the firm held meetings with investors. Sorrell took a small cut in salary and agreed to additional limits on his potential compensation, and the controversy died down.