By Mark Sweney
UK’s best-paid chief executive could receive smaller package of about £15m after earning more than £200m in four years.
Sir Martin Sorrell, Britain’s best-paid chief executive, is to take a pay cut in an effort to avert a clash with investors over the scale of his remuneration. WPP will confirm on Friday that Sorrell was awarded almost £50m last year, taking the total payout to the founder of the world’s largest advertising company to more than £200m over the past five years.
The latest payout will be the last from WPP’s controversial Leap scheme, which has sparked investor revolts at the company’s annual meetings, and is to be replaced with a less generous deal that is expected to pay out under £20m annually.
However, WPP – which saw a third of shareholders oppose Sorrell’s £70m payout for 2015 at last year’s AGM, one of the biggest pay deals in UK corporate history – is set to announce that it will cut Sorrell’s maximum pay package to closer to £15m.
The company has moved to stem further potential run-ins with investors at a time of renewed scrutiny of corporate Britain since the vote for Brexit and the warning by Theresa May that she would curb boardroom excess. This year’s annual meeting, to be held in June, will include a binding vote on WPP’s pay policy over the next three years.
In December, the chair of WPP’s pay committee told MPs that Sorrell was not on a “superstar” salary but that he has been “rewarded very highly” for driving the WPP business.
Sorrell’s pay has been a flashpoint in the past. In 2012, during what became known as the shareholder spring, nearly 60% of investors rejected his annual package for the previous year.
Last year, Sorrell defended his pay package, arguing that he had put three decades of his life into building WPP from a maker of wire baskets into a £22bn global marketing business.
“I’m not a johnny-come-lately who picked a company up and turned it round [for a big payday],” he said. “If it was one five-year plan and we buggered off, fine [to criticise my pay]. Over those 31 years … I have taken a significant degree of risk. [WPP] is where my wealth is. It is long effort over a long period of time.”
Photograph: WPA/Getty Images
By Mark Sweney
Sourced from The Guardian