Sor­rell was paid mil­lions to stop him ‘throw­ing toys out of pram’

Daily Mail - - City & Finance - by Matt Oliver

WPP con­tin­ued to pay Sir Martin Sor­rell tens of mil­lions of pounds to stop the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive from ‘throw­ing his toys out of the pram’, the group’s chair­man has claimed.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary ad­mis­sion, Roberto Quarta said the board felt it could cut the ad ty­coon’s pay by only £22m in 2016 de­spite in­vestor up­roar over £70m he had been handed the pre­vi­ous year.

This was partly be­cause Sor­rell’s ben­e­fits had been capped at £200,000 and his spousal travel al­lowance re­duced, the chair­man added while on the side­lines at the firm’s AGM yes­ter­day.

As a re­sult, Sor­rell trousered £48m – a fig­ure that still made him the FTSE 100’s best-paid boss.

‘We wanted to en­sure that Martin would not throw his toys out of the pram, so to speak,’ Quarta said.

‘Now you can well imag­ine – it’s the end of 2016, com­pany per­for­mance is stel­lar – try­ing to have con­ver­sa­tions with a chief ex­ec­u­tive who has al­ready agreed to a re­duc­tion in re­mu­ner­a­tion and spousal travel. To then have him agree we should also change terms and con­di­tions of his con­tract – you can un­der­stand that was some­thing we were work­ing on.’

Yes­ter­day Quarta also re­vealed WPP tried to ne­go­ti­ate a non- com­pete deal with Sor­rell – to stop him tak­ing his tal­ents else­where if he left – but failed to agree on changes to his con­tract be­fore he quit in April un­der a cloud of mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions.

The 72-year-old has since gone on to launch a new com­pany, S4 Cap­i­tal. Sor­rell has claimed his new ven­ture is a ‘peanut’ com­pared to £15bn WPP, but he was still warned he could face le­gal ac­tion if he acted on se­cret in­for­ma­tion from his time at WPP.

Quarta said: ‘We are en­ti­tled to chal­lenge any in­di­vid­ual who may breach a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment, and Martin would be no dif­fer­ent. He has a lot of knowl­edge and that knowl­edge has a life­span. We are watch­ing to see what Martin will do.’

Quarta’s com­ments came at as share­hold­ers vented their fury at a £20m exit pack­age set to be paid to Sor­rell.

More than a quar­ter of in­vestors re­belled against the lu­cra­tive pay­out at the AGM in Lon­don. It fol­lowed com­plaints by ad­vi­sory ser­vices about a lack of trans­parency around the ty­coon’s de­par­ture.

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