WPP has risked another investor rebellion after chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell's pay jumped 56 per cent last year to £13m against £8.3m a year earlier.
Jeffrey Rosen, the chairman of WPP's compensation committee, said the advertising giant had listened to shareholders after 41 per cent voted against the remuneration report at last year's annual meeting.
But this did not stop WPP from hiking pay and pension contributions for Sir Martin. His biggest single reward was £5.75m from a long-term share bonus award, called Leap, which began in 2006 and vested last year. But Sir Martin's basic pay also rose from £1m to £1.3m – the first increase since 2007. This boosted his short-term bonus and pension, which are based on a multiple of base salary. He had complained last year that his £1m salary was "very low".
Mr Rosen said the rewards were justified in a record year for WPP. "When people look at the totality of things – we're a job creator in the UK, the increase in the dividend, and so on – I hope they'll come to the conclusion this is sensible," he said.
Abigail Herron, corporate governance manager of Co-operative Asset Management, a WPP shareholder, declined to comment on Sir Martin's latest pay deal but said she had "some concerns over the potential excesses in the Leap scheme".