Advertising boss faces backlash

Standard Life joins rebellion over Sorrell pay

Euan StirlingA third of shareholders rebelled against Sir Martin Sorrell’s £70m pay deal at the advertising firm’s annual general meeting.

Excluding abstentions, 33.5% of investors opposed the pay deal which is one of the biggest in UK corporate history.

WPP’s remuneration policy will now face a binding vote at next year’s annual meeting.

Among those expressing their disquiet was Standard Life Investments whose head of Stewardship Euan Stirling (pictured) said the pay and bonus deal raised questions about how the company hires and rewards Mr Sorrell’s successor.

He drew attention to the company’s annual report which “specifically acknowledges that businesses need permission from society to operate and that they need to exhibit a broad sense of responsibility to all stakeholders.”

He said that as shareholders, “we ask that these factors are reflected in future succession planning and remuneration policies”.

Mr Stirling said the current policy could result in the chief executive receiving over fifteen times his base salary of more than £1m should all the performance conditions be met.

“We expect that is more than would be required to recruit, retain or motivate even someone with the redoubtable talents of Mr. Sorrell.”


Asset manager Hermes is also thought to have opposed today’s deal and campaign group ShareAction said it objected to Mr Sorrell’s pay.

It is the latest in a string of votes against big pay deals for Britain’s top bosses. In April, BP shareholders opposed BP boss Bob Dudley’s £14m package.

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