Sir Martin Sorrell shrugs off revolt over £30m pay at WPP

The FTSE 100’s best-paid boss says it’s wrong to ‘make comparisons’ with other city bosses as he built company from scratch

The world’s top advertising mogul has shrugged off an investor revolt over his £30m pay. He claimed the Government would be happy if the shareholder vote in his favour  were a political election result and insisted that his pay could not be compared to that of other City bosses.

Sir Martin Sorrell, the best-paid chief executive in the FTSE 100, said it was wrong to “make comparisons” because he built his company, WPP, from scratch – unlike many other City bosses.

Twenty-eight per cent of shareholders failed to back the WPP remuneration report and nearly 27 per cent failed to back future remuneration policy – a big protest by City standards.

A significant number of shareholders abstained to express their disapproval. Leaving aside those abstentions, 18 per cent opposed the remuneration report and 82 per cent were in favour at the annual meeting at The Shard near London Bridge.

Sir Martin, 69, told The Independent: “I think that [the 82 per cent backing] would be a vote the Government would welcome if it were an EU referendum or Scottish devolution. I think it is sufficient.”

WPP, the world’s biggest ad group, argues that Sir Martin’s pay is fair because it is performance-based. Nearly £23m of his £29.8m package came from long-term bonuses. His base salary has been cut by £150,000 to £1.15m and potential bonuses reduced.

However, Keith Jago, a small shareholder, said: “I wonder how anyone can be worth £30m when the UK is debating our minimum wage levels? Martin’s hourly rate works out at £24,000 an hour – 3,700 times the minimum wage.”

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum claimed WPP’s bonus scheme still has an “excessive quantum” worth “more than 1,400 per cent of base salary”. LAPFF also complained of “complex salary and bonus packages that are not justified by performance and are out of step with shareholder and community expectations”.

Sir Martin could still earn a maximum of £19.3m in 2014.

This is just the latest revolt at WPP. Forty-two per cent failed to back the remuneration report in 2011 and 60 per cent opposed it in 2012. Even after the bonus scheme was reduced, 26 per cent failed to back the report a year ago.

“It’s part of a continuum,” said Sir Martin, who claimed some critics failed to realise his bonuses have soared in value in part because of WPP’s rising share price.

“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 per cent 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.”

He suggested he was different from the majority of bosses of other listed companies. “When you found a company and you build a company, your attitude is different,” said Sir Martin, who has run WPP since 1986. “I’ve invested my money where my mouth is.”

The departing chairman, Philip Lader, prompted smiles when he insisted WPP was not overly reliant on Sir Martin and has a strong team. “It is an exaggeration to say the management of the company is 175,000 people reporting to an energetic fellow on a BlackBerry,” he said.

WPP has appointed a new head of its remuneration committee, John Hood.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
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

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS, Crystal rep

£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Java/Calypso Developer

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, ...

Quantitative Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Web developer (C#, MVC4, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Jquery)

£30000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...

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