WPP’s first Annual General Meeting was held in London overnight, with a large number of shareholders unsupportive of the ad giant’s remuneration report.
The pay plans would see former WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell paid out AU$35 million over the next five years.
The move was fairly contested by shareholders, with nearly 30 per cent abstaining or voting against Sorrell’s payout.
Almost 30% investors oppose WPP pay report and 16.5% vote against reelection of Roberto Quarta as chairman pic.twitter.com/dXEGcr0r8V
— Alex Ralph (@alexralph) June 13, 2018
As well as the AU$35 million, Sorrell is also due to receive AU$24 million from WPP.
Chairman Roberto Quarta was also in the firing line, as roughly 16 per cent of investors had rejected his re-election due to his inability to organise a replacement for Sorrell.
Investors also voiced their disappointment in WPP about the ambiguity surrounding Sorrell’s departure.
Responding to the latter, Quarta said he was unable to reveal the intricacies of Sorrell’s departure due to “unequivocal legal advice”.
“I would like to address some of the questions – and occasional misconceptions – about the resignation of our former chief executive at the conclusion of an investigation into an allegation of personal misconduct.
“The process that the board followed in response to the allegation against Sir Martin was robust both from a governance and legal perspective.
“It treated him just as any other employee would have been treated in the same circumstances.
“Although we have confirmed that the matter was financially wholly immaterial to WPP, we understand why some would like the company to disclose or confirm further details of the allegation.
“However, right from the outset, the board has acted in accordance with unequivocal legal advice that data protection law prohibits us from doing so.
“And as a group entrusted with our client and employee data, we take that responsibility very seriously.”
Earlier this month, news emerged Sorrell’s shock departure from WPP last April may have been due to allegations of staff bullying and claims he’d used company money to visit sex workers in London’s upmarket Mayfair.
The allegations of prostitution first aired in the Wall Street Journal and have been “strenuously” denied by Sorrell.
The UK’s Financial Times also published allegations that Sorrell had also bullied junior employees.
As part of the AGM, WPP’s global revenue for the first four months of the year was also discussed, revealing it was down 3.4 per cent year-on-year to AU$8.5 billion.
Net sales were also down 5.0 per cent to AU$7 billion.
See below for WPP’s AGM trading update: