Shareholders vote against WPP boss pay package

 

Advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell suffered a major rebuke today in one of the biggest pay revolts of the current "shareholder spring".

Some 59.5 per cent of proxy investor votes went against WPP's remuneration report, which includes a £6.8 million package for Sir Martin, which he has defended as a reward for "performance, not failure".

The vote, revealed at WPP's annual meeting in Dublin, is not binding and will not force WPP to reset its pay policy for last year.

Louise Rouse, director of engagement at investment campaigner FairPensions, who attended the meeting, said: "It is difficult to know whether the WPP board underestimated the level of shareholder anger or simply chose to ignore it."

WPP owns dozens of companies including public relations firm Ogilvy, communications agency RLM Finsbury and market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The backlash follows months of shareholder anger over executive pay with the likes of Aviva, Trinity Mirror, Barclays, William Hill, Xstrata and Premier Foods all facing significant votes against their pay reports.

The vote against the pay report is one of the largest this year, only being beaten by the level of dissent at Cairn Energy, Pendragon and Centamin.

Chairman Philip Lader, a former White House deputy chief of staff, told the meeting: "We take the remuneration report vote very seriously. We'll consult with many share owners and will then move forward in the best interests of our share owners and our business."

Sir Martin, who founded WPP in 1985 and has invested and co-invested millions of pounds into the company, has defended the deal as reflective of his performance, after the group reported bottom-line profits of £1 billion for the first time in 2011.

The businessman's pay package is made up of £1.3 million salary, £2 million annual bonus, £3 million deferred shares and other benefits.

On top of the annual remuneration, Sir Martin received nearly £6 million in shares last year, although these were awarded in 2006 and were closely-tied to performance targets, pension contributions and more than £1.3 million in dividend equivalents.

Shareholder advisory groups, including the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Pensions Investment Research Consultants (Pirc), last week urged members not to back the advertising group's "excessive" remuneration report.

Pirc said it was concerned by "excessiveness and the balance between reward and incentive".

Writing in the Financial Times last week, Sir Martin issued a robust defence of his pay, warning that if Britain wanted high achievers in the private sector, it needed to pay competitively.

He told the paper: "The compensation debate in the UK now seems to have shifted from undeserving bankers paid for failure and from payment for performance to what is fair pay."

Other casualties of the so-called shareholder spring have included Andrew Moss, who quit as chief executive of Aviva, and Sly Bailey, who will leave her post as boss of Trinity Mirror.

Business Secretary Vince Cable is currently drawing up plans to give greater power to shareholders but is understood to be considering watering down proposals for a binding annual vote in favour of a poll every three years.

It had been feared that a binding annual vote would make investors less inclined to protest in case they destabilised management teams and would add to bureaucracy.

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment