WPP Investors supported company CEO Martin Sorrell’s $100 million-plus pay package for 2015 in a vote at the firm’s annual meeting in London today. But a significant minority — about one-third of votes cast — weighed in against the package, while two-thirds supported it.
Most of Sorrell’s big payday came in the form of stock awards related to performance benchmarks for the company from 2011 to 2015. The UK press had been predicting a “pay revolt” by shareholders since the payout was confirmed by WPP in March.
While a sizable minority disapproved, investor backlash against Sorrell’s annual pay has been stronger — in 2012 a majority of shares were voted against the package (the vote is advisory).
Separately, WPP Chairman Roberto Quarta reported that revenue and net sales growth for the first four months of the year was “generally the same as the first quarter of 2016.” The numbers continue to benefit a bit from a currency “tailwind” reflecting weakness of the British pound against the U.S. dollar and the Euro, Quarta said.
The company continues to project growth of between 3% and 4% for full-year 2016.
GDP growth remains “stuck” in the 3 to 3.5% range, said Quarta, resulting in continuing client caution. “Procurement and finance remain the dominant functions,” he said. “We believe that the recovery of confidence is lagging behind the recovery of many economies.”
Quarta said that belief is based in part “on the continuing dependence of many marketing companies on price promotions.” He added that “looking back, it seems that to us and our companies that necessary short-term caution has drifted into a semi-permanent commitment to short-termism—where prudence has been replaced by a kind of timidity — and much at the expense of what our companies do best.”