WPP boss Martin Sorrell to face pay package opposition from a pension fund group

Sorrell's pay has come under scrutiny, with some shareholder advisory groups asking investors to reject his compensation at the company's annual general meeting on Wednesday

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The Independent Online

A group of UK-based public sector pension funds urged their members to vote against WPP's remuneration report at the advertising company's annual meeting, citing excessive pay offered to Chief Executive Martin Sorrell.

Mr Sorrell's pay has come under scrutiny, with some shareholder advisory groups asking investors to reject his compensation at the company's annual general meeting on 8 June.

Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) said Mr Sorrell's pay rose by 56 per cent over the past five years to £70.4m, which is twice the year-on-year average increase in the company's total shareholder return over the same period.

The chief executive's total variable pay is more than 58 times his £1.15m salary, the group said, adding that he was among the top 10 highly paid CEOs of the FTSE 100.

LAPFF represents 70 pension funds.

“Martin Sorrell's remuneration is derived from the formulaic application of long-term co-investment scheme approved by an 83 percent vote in favour by shareholders in 2009,” a WPP spokesman told Reuters.

The company does not comment on individual shareholder advisory bodies' recommendations, he said.

Campaign group ShareAction also disapproved of Mr Sorrell's pay on Monday, while Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC), an advisory firm and LAPFF's research partner, asked WPP shareholders last week to oppose it.

However, proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) asked shareholders last month to vote in favour of the remuneration report.

A number of big British companies are facing opposition from shareholders to executive pay packages this year in a resurgence of investor activism against excessive boardroom salaries.

In April, BP shareholders voted against Chief Executive Bob Dudley's $20m (£14m) pay deal for 2015 after the company made a record annual loss.

WPP's stock was up 0.44 per cent at 1588 pence on Monday on the London Stock Exchange.

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