There hasn’t been any love lost between WPP and its former CEO Martin Sorrell since he was forced out of the company in 2018, and the vitriol continues.
The latest skirmish involves long-term incentive awards of WPP stock that Sorrell was granted a few years before his departure. Those shares vested this year. but WPP now refuses to pay them.
In its latest annual report, out this week, the company said the awards would lapse without being paid “as a result of Sir Martin Sorrell’s disclosure of confidential information belonging to WPP and certain of its clients to the media during his tenure as a WPP director.” Details of the leaked information were not disclosed.
The 2016 awards had a face value of about $15.6 million and the 2017 awards had a face value of around $9.6 million, according to WPP’s annual reports for those years.
Technically, Sorrell retired from the company he built over three decades, and has always denied reports of personal misconduct that WPP launched a probe into but never publicly specified.
Sorrell told Reuters: “It’s a bit rich that they’re accusing me of leaks, given their own over the last three years.” He added: “They’ve had to go back several years to try and find an excuse to deny me what’s mine. I’ve left it to my lawyers to deal with.”
WPP declined to comment.