Sir Martin Sorrell steps down as chief executive of WPP

Sir Martin Sorrell steps down as chief executive of WPP

Sorrell is one of Britain's best known and highly paid businessmen, pocketing about £230m since 2010.

He had been under investigation by WPP but had rejected any claim of financial impropriety. His share awards will be pro-rated in line with the plan rules and will vest over the next five years, to the extent that performance targets are met. Sorrell is one of the largest shareholders of WPP, with a 1.46% stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

As per the official press release issued on the company site, "the previously announced investigation into an allegation of misconduct against Sorrell has concluded". They have not said whether allegations were put to Sorrell resulting in his resignation.

Sky News has learnt that WPP, which owns a string of global advertising and media buying networks supplying numerous world's biggest companies, is preparing to announce Sir Martin's departure as soon as Saturday night.

WPP said Sorrell would be treated as having retired, with chairman Roberto Quarta becoming executive chairman until a new chief executive is appointed.

Andrew Scott, WPP's corporate development director and Europe COO, and Mark Read, Wunderman CEO, will share the COO roles at WPP.

Sir Martin Sorrell is in line for nearly £20m in payouts from WPP over the next five years, as part of the deal struck to leave the advertising group he founded more than three decades ago.

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Sorrell, who worked at Saatchi & Saatchi before founding WPP, said the company has been "a passion, focus and source of energy for so long".

He said that he leaves the company in "very good hands", with Read, Scott and the management team at all levels having the knowledge and abilities to take WPP to "even greater heights, as well as capitalise on the geographic and functional opportunities".

Sorrell, who founded the British ad giant and has been at the helm for the past 33 years, stepped down less than a fortnight after the group launched an independent investigation into the allegations.

In his time the group expanded to own top creative agencies including J. Walter Thompson and Young & Rubicam, as well as media planners and buyers, market-research firms and public relations groups such as Finsbury.

That has left WPP and its peers - the French group Publicis and Interpublic of the U.S. - being buffeted by headwinds which also include the disintermediation of digital platforms such as Facebook.

A spokesperson for WPP provided a statement, attributed to Sorrell.

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.

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