£36m bonus for WPP boss Sir Martin

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WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell is to scoop £36m from the advertising company’s controversial executive bonus scheme, it was disclosed today.

Sir Martin will receive the maximum amount of shares under the long-term incentive plan after the value of the business jumped £10bn in five years.

The long-time WPP boss and 16 other executives all had to commit shares to participate in the scheme, which allowed them to receive up to five times as many shares dependent on performance.

The scheme was scrapped by the company in 2012 amid a shareholder revolt but executives are still able to participate based on the share purchases they made in the years prior to its replacement.

The latest payout means Sir Martin, who is already regarded as the highest paid chief executive in the FTSE 100, is set to receive more than £40m in total pay and awards for 2014.

His latest pay-out is likely to stoke anger over executive pay, with the Institute Of Directors recently forecasting it was likely to be an issue in the run-up to the general election. WPP’s annual report is due at the end of April.

Sir Martin joined WPP in 1986 and has turned the business into one of the world’s biggest advertising and marketing companies, with about 180,000 staff and UK agencies including Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy and RLM Finsbury. He is also a non-executive director of Formula One.

The company is currently worth more than £20bn and last year generated revenues of £11.5bn and pre-tax profits of £1.68bn.

WPP pointed out that £1,000 invested in the company in January 2010 increased to £2,207 by end of 2014 compared with £1,213 if invested in the FTSE 100 Index.

WPP chairman Philip Lader said “This senior management incentive compensation plan required substantial personal, long-term investment by the participants, exceptional corporate performance over five years, and was approved by an 83 per cent supporting vote of share owners.”

Sir Martin has sold 48 per cent of his shares award in order to cover tax liabilities on the plan.