Shareholder rebellion over WPP boss Sorrell’s £70m pay package

WP's  Martin Sorrell
WP's Martin Sorrell
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Advertising giant WPP has suffered a shareholder rebellion over boss Sir Martin Sorrell’s mammoth £70 million pay deal after a third of investors voted against the group’s executive pay plans.

WPP saw 33 per cent of investor votes cast against its remuneration report ahead of the firm’s annual general meeting (AGM) in London amid concerns over Sir Martin’s controversial pay package, which has been branded “excessive” and “unacceptable”.

Including votes that were withheld, more than 34 per cent of shareholders failed to back the group’s pay policy for top bosses, although the final vote count is due later today.

A raft of shareholder groups and major investors in the firm have hit out at Sir Martin’s pay for 2015, which includes a £1.15 million base salary and £62.8 million in shares from a long-term incentive plan - making him the best paid chief executive in the FTSE 100.

While the group narrowly survived the vote at its AGM, with two thirds backing the remuneration report, it marks its second major revolt over pay in four years.

Sir Martin was embroiled in the so-called shareholder spring of 2012, which saw nearly 60 per cent of WPP investors reject his £6.8 million pay packet.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) said ahead of Wednesday’s AGM it was against the “excessive payments offered to Sir Martin Sorrell”.

The LAPFF - an association of 70 UK public sector pension funds with combined assets of approximately £175 billion - said Sir Martin’s variable pay is more than 58 times his £1.15 million salary.