Sorrell's New WPP: S4 Capital

Well, that didn’t take long. Martin Sorrell, who parted ways with WPP last month, has joined UK investment firm Derriston Capital as executive chairman. The company has a $200 million M&A war chest, and Sorrell has put more than $50 million of his own money into the firm, which has been renamed S4 Capital.

The company confirmed the news via a London Stock Exchange announcement.

Sorrell stated: "S4 Capital is a company that aims to build a multinational communication services business focused on growth. There are significant opportunities for development in technology, data and content. I look forward to making this happen."

For now, it appears that Sorrell is taking an approach — albeit on a much smaller scale for now — not dissimilar from what he did at WPP over a 30-plus-year period. That is, he took a small, relatively unknown entity — a shopping-cart company known as Wire & Plastic Products — and transformed it into a major Adland holding company mainly through acquisition.



Sorrell left WPP under the cloud of a mysterious investigation last month looking into allegations of personal misconduct. Technically, the longtime WPP chief “retired” from the firm, which has said repeatedly that it will not disclose any details surrounding the investigation or what it turned up.

Investors have been taking sides in recent weeks, leading up the firm’s annual meeting next month, as to whether the company has handled the Sorrell affair competently.

One major shareholder advisory group, Glass Lewis, urged WPP shareholders earlier this month to oust WPP chairman Roberto Quarta for his handling of Sorrell’s departure and for failing to have a satisfactory succession plan in place.

But big WPP shareholder Harris Associates countered a week later that the Sorrell contretemps doesn’t really matter in the long run, as long as the firm has a plan for successful future growth.  

Two interim COOs — Mark Read and Andrew Scott — are running the day-to-day WPP operations, along with Quarta, as the search for a new CEO continues.

Big industry names have been reportedly sized up by WPP as candidates, including Oath’s Tim Armstrong, Unilever’s Keith Weed, BBDO’s Andrew Robertson and Dentsu Aegis’ Jerry Buhlmann.



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