Martin Sorrell stands down as WPP CEO

Sir Martin Sorrell

Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer of Wunderman and WPP Digital, and Andrew Scott, WPP Corporate Development Director and Chief Operating Officer, Europe, have been appointed as joint Chief Operating Officers of WPP.

The chairman of WPP, Roberto Quarta, will oversee the agency until a new CEO is appointed.

The company said Sorrell would be available to assist with the transition, and the man synonymous with the British marketing group told the staff they would come through this hard time.

"As a founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that".

And last month amidst slowing down of revenues and income and the growing clout of the FANGS - the board commenced an investigation charging Sorrell with personal misconduct and misuse of the company's assets. The allegations do not involve amounts which are material to WPP as the holding company.

Mr Sorrell is among the most influential advertising professionals globally and also the longest-serving FTSE-100 chief executive, who has run WPP since setting up the business in 1985. Sorrell has denied the allegations, details of which have yet to publicly surface.

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"The previously announced investigation into an allegation of misconduct against Sir Martin has concluded", the WPP statement read. It added that the 73 year old would be "treated as having retired" and that his share awards would be "pro-rated in line with the plan rules and will vest over the next five years, to the extent group performance targets are achieved". Sir Martin would of course assist with the transition. In the past few years, his role has come under pressure in context to his pay and other issues, including the drop in WPP revenue last year.

"I will particularly miss the daily interactions with everyone across the world and want to thank them and their families for all they have done, and will do, for WPP", Sorrell added.

The marketing services industries are being buffeted by accelerating trends such as zero-based budgeting, which has led to many consumer-facing companies abandoning increases in marketing spending.

There's big news in the world of advertising. The end of the Sorrell era was accompanied by statements from both WPP and Sorrell.

WPP has seen its ‎shares fall by almost a third during the last 12 months, although it still has a market capitalisation of more than £15bn. The company has over 200,000 employees.

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