WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell quits

The chief executive of the world’s biggest advertising firm, WPP, quit on Saturday (April 14) following an allegation of personal misconduct. David Doyle reports.

SHANGHAI, CHINA / BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA / DAVOS, SWITZERLAND / INTERNET (REUTERS / UNILEVER) – The chief executive of the world’s biggest advertising company, quit on Saturday (April 14) after an allegation of personal misconduct.

WPP stunned the market earlier this month by announcing that it had appointed lawyers to investigate alleged misconduct by Martin Sorrell.

In a letter to WPP staff published late on Saturday, Sorrell denied the allegations but said the current disruption was putting “too much unnecessary pressure” on the business.

WPP said the investigation, which related to financial impropriety, had now concluded.

It made no further comment except to repeat a previous statement that the allegation did not involve amounts that were material to the company.

A source close to Sorrell said he had been unhappy with how the investigation was handled, making him uncertain whether he could work with the board again.

Over three decades, Sorrell built WPP from a two man operation into one of Britain’s biggest companies, with 200,000 staff in 112 countries.

But it has been hit in the last 18 months by a downturn in spending from consumer goods groups Unilever and P&G and the loss of some big accounts.

WPP shares are down by around 30 per cent this year.

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