Sir Martin Sorrell has reignited his ongoing war with WPP, once again calling for CEO, Mark Read, to resign.
Fresh from yesterday’s very impressive third quarter numbers for Sorrell’s new venture S4, the 75-year-old media sage has again launched an extraordinary attack on the world’s biggest media company.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Sorrell said Read should step down “before he is pushed”.
He also admitted that he launched S4 to “prove a point” to the “bozos” at WPP.
Sorrell, of course, was famously outed from his CEO role at WPP back in March 2018 amid allegations of impropriety. He has since used his significant media presence to take repeated swipes at the company he founded.
However, major shareholder in WPP David Herro, who is the chief investment officer of Harris Associates, has labelled his actions as “disgusting” and another attempt to destabilise the business.
Yesterday, Sorrell said Read “won’t last” because he’d been too focused on cutting WPP’s debt which had led to the business being stifled, contributed to the loss of key personnel and the sale of assets which had since soared in value (presumably its market research company Kantar and its South American data group Globant).
“The best thing he can do is resign before he is pushed. Really. He won’t last,” Sorrell said before adding that WPP’s chief financial officer John Rogers “has big eyes” on Read’s job.
Sorrell added that Read’s decisions over the past two years were “driving people nuts” and “killing the businesses”.
However, Sorrell ruled out that he might make a move on parts of the WPP business. “The best tool that we can take against WPP is to continue to build our business and to confound the sceptics,” he said.
In a recent interview, Sorrell had said that WPP isn’t S4’s major competitor, rather its the consultancy firms, namely Accenture.
In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Herro hit back at Sorrell’s claims.
Herro said Sorrell was merely “attacking the people cleaning up his mess”.
He added: “Martin cannot let it go. This is the way old school admen work. To me it is disgusting. If he is so disappointed in WPP why does he not make a bid for it or sell his shares?”
Sorrell still owns a two per cent stake of WPP and has repeatedly said he has the right to attack the company as he remains a significant shareholder. He has repeatedly called for WPP to be broken up, suggesting its media buying arm, GroupM, was about the only part of the business worth keeping.
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