Sorrellâ€™s WPP sales pitch ignored
By Tim Bradshaw in London and Jamie Smyth in Dublin
WPP made shareholders at its Dublin annual meeting watch almost two hours of presentations before letting their voice be heard.
Representatives from WPPâ€™s key new markets â€“ Brazil, Russia, India and China â€“ enthused about their growth prospects and Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive, charted the companyâ€™s 35 per cent compound annual revenue growth rate since he founded it in 1985.
But this sales pitch from the worldâ€™s largest advertising group, by sales and market value, was in vain: most investors had already voted by proxy before Wednesdayâ€™s meeting began.
Eventually, the only communication anyone was interested in was thrown up in lights on a billboard behind chairman Philip Lader: a sizeable 60 per cent majority of shareholders had voted against Sir Martinâ€™s Â£6.8m total remuneration.
â€œIt was a symbol to a certain extent of the power they feel he has and whether he has too much power,â€ said Lucy Marcus, a regular speaker and author on board governance, who said Sir Martinâ€™s attempt to justify his pay in the pages of the Financial Times last week â€œwas seen to be a little bit thumbing in peopleâ€™s nosesâ€.
Ms Marcus added: â€œOne of the reasons heâ€™s valued is he is known for having opinions and being outspoken. But at the same time, is his compensation properly linked to results?â€
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