WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell has a new boss – private equity magnate Roberto Quarta, who’s also chairman of medical technology company Smith & Nephew and engineer IMI.
Quarta (below), an Italian-American and a partner in private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice, succeeds Philip Lader, chairman since 2001 and a former US ambassador to the UK.
Lader’s main job over the past few years has been the annual arm wrestle with WPP’s shareholders over Sorrell’s booming pay as various long term WPP share awards have kicked in – leading to a pay packet of around £30m last year. Sorrell, who founded WPP over 25 years ago, is often accused of treating WPP as his own company despite owning a relatively small (but very valuable) stake in the £17bn marcoms giant.
Sorrell, who seems to have been taken unawares by Sky News breaking thew story, says: “Following an exhaustive search, the Board has chosen Roberto to be its next chairman, as his experience and background complement and will help develop WPP’s strategy in new markets, in new media, in data investment management and the application of technology and, last but not least, horizontality.”
One of the things Quarta will have to get used to is Sorrell-speak: ‘horizontality’ doesn’t mean getting everybody to lie down, it’s supposed to mean everybody in WPP’s multifarious companies and disciplines playing as a team.
While he’s doing all this, Quarta will also need to find time to consider succession management at WPP. Sorrell is now 69 and even he can’t go on for ever. Mind you, that consideration doesn’t seem to deter ancient rival Maurice Levy at Publicis Groupe very much.