Global advisory group, Glass Lewis, is publicly encouraging WPP investors to oust chairman and new CEO Roberto Quarta.
Glass Lewis is citing its “severe reservations” of Quarta as its reasoning following the way the ad giant has handled the exit of former WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell.
Quarta replaced Sorrell as CEO after his resignation in April.
According to The Guardian, Glass Lewis is pointing to WPP’s failure to release the outcome of the investigation into Sorrell’s “personal misconduct” – which prompted his resignation – as evidence of foul play by Quarta and the company.
The lack of publishing has meant Sorrell has been able to walk away from WPP as a “good leaver”, omitting any details of unsavoury actions.
On top of this, Glass Lewis has suggested WPP investors discard the company’s recent pay report, which indicated Sorrell’s salary had been cut by upwards of 70 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
Glass Lewis also went on to criticise Quarta’s handling of Sorrell’s departure.
“We harbour concerns as to the transparency and efficacy of the succession process,” said Glass Lewis.
“Despite previous assurances, we believe the nomination committee has failed to adequately prepare for the replacement of Sir Martin.
“Our concerns are heightened by the opaque nature of the investigation into Sir Martin [and] his ‘good leaver’ status.
“Absent further information regarding Sir Martin’s retirement, we believe shareholders are unable to determine the extent to which he should be treated as a ‘good leaver’.”
Meanwhile, many news sites are also encouraging WPP to be more transparent about Sorrell’s exit from the company.
A recent opinion piece on The Financial Review, written by Simon Dawson, claims Sorrell’s resignation has been “cloaked in secrecy” adding the move “fuels curiosity and justifies disapproval”.
Dawson adds, “If the board is gagged for legal reasons beyond its control, it should say so. Otherwise, it should be more forthcoming.
“The board says allegations against Sir Martin did not involve material amounts. For a group with a market worth of £16.5 billion this is unhelpfully vague.”
Sorrell resigned from WPP in mid-April having founded the ad giant in 1985 after buying a majority stake in the company when it was called ‘Wire Plastics and Products pls’.