WPP's 2018 Pay King: Martin Sorrell

For years, WPP shareholders loudly complained about the remuneration package received by CEO Martin Sorrell, which peaked at nearly $100 million in 2015.

Things are a bit different now.

Mark Read, who took over as CEO last fall earned a total of around $1.25 million in 2018.

In fact, Sorrell, who left last April, made more than Read last year with a package totaling about $4 million. That was down considerably from the nearly $18 million he earned in 2017, his last full year in office.

And shareholders weren’t thrilled with Sorrell’s separation terms, as 27% of shareholder votes cast at last year’s meeting were against approving the firm’s executive compensation plan. 

According to the firm’s 2018 annual report, the reason for the significant vote against the package was “primarily discontent around the circumstances leading to Sorrell’s resignation [as well as] his contractual treatment as a retiree and the “good leaver” treatment of his outstanding share awards.”



Officially, Sorrell retired after the company launched an investigation into alleged personal misconduct. I’m sure you’ve read about the details.

Next year, the company plans to report the CEO’s pay and how it compares to the average WPP employee. It didn’t make sense to do it for 2018, Read’s transition year in the job, per the annual report.

That will be an interesting comparison.

I’m betting it will be a lot less than the 1,400-plus times Disney chief Bob Iger made last year (more than $65 million) versus the median Disney employee. Disney heiress Abigail Disney recently called that payout “insane.”

Which is pretty much what WPP shareholders thought of Sorrell’s bloated pay packages for the last decade or so that he ran the company.


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