WPP shareholders revolted against Sir Martin Sorrell’s £30m pay package yesterday but he survived.
At WPP’s Shard office, close to 30% of shareholders didn’t support Sir Martin’s pay and nearly 27% didn’t back the company’s future remuneration policy.
Sorrell, who is the FTSE’s best-paid chief executive, saw a 70% rise in his pay to £29.8m. This was because he owns £22.6m in shares under WPP’s long-term incentive plan.
In 2012, WPP made changes to its executive pay policy after a long consultation with shareholders. Sir Martin saw a cut in his base salary, pension and higher targets for his long-term incentives.
Sir Martin Sorrell told the Independent: “You don’t go and analyse the investment I make in the company. You don’t analyse the impact and the movements in the share price – positively or negatively. You don’t analyse the fact that 100% of my wealth is in this company. You just put that to one side and you make comparisons with other situations and say they are the same. But they aren’t.”
Departing chairman Phil Lader said: “It is my personal view that it would be unfair if something that was put in place by 80% of the shareholders years ago and the arithmetic computation reaches a certain number, to turn to 12 of the senior executives and say ‘I’m sorry, but no longer is that applicable to you’. In fact that might even raise a legal issue.”