Sorrell quits as WPP chief executive

Sorrell quits as WPP chief executive

Sorrell's 1985 investment in Wire & Plastic Products and string of acquisitions of advertising companies that followed effectively founded WPP, making him an executive seen by some as irreplaceable for his direct access to clients and active hand on a sprawling network of agencies.

Sorrell, 73, said in a statement that he was sad to leave, with WPP having been his passion and focus for more than three decades.

WPP plans to announce that‎ Mark Read, the chief executive of Wunderman, an agency network it owns, and Andrew Scott, chief operating officer of the group's European business, will take over as interim joint chief operating officers.

The news is likely to impact the share price of WPP as well as have wider implications for the advertising industry, including WPP AUNZ.

The chairman of WPP, Roberto Quarta, will oversee the agency until a new CEO is appointed. Sorrell will be available to assist with the transition. "Obviously, I shall play no part in the management of the investigation under way", he added. I reject the allegation unreservedly but recognize that the company has to investigate it. Sorrell has denied the allegations, details of which have yet to publicly surface.

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But beyond the investigation that leaked this month, there were other signs Sorrell was losing his magic touch.

Sir Martin is also likely to be allowed to retain on a pro rata basis significant amounts of unvested WPP stock which would be released, based on the company's performance, over the coming years, sources said. WPP's shares have lost a third of their value of the past year - far more than rivals facing the same market challenges of reduced ad spending and competition from web giants - as its financial guidance has repeatedly proved too optimistic.

"Martin has been the driving force behind the expansion of WPP to create the global leader in marketing services". Some of its biggest clients include Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

WPP has seen its ‎shares fall by almost a third during the last 12 months, although it still has a market capitalisation of more than £15bn.

WPP declined to comment on Saturday evening, while Sir Martin could not be reached for comment.

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