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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable