WPP’s’ first half results aren’t out until September – could the group be sitting on some big news?

Three of the “big four” holding companies have filed their first half results, with IPG the standout winner, thanks to its 5.6 per cent organic growth in the second quarter of 2018.

Only WPP is left to go, and we won’t hear from them until September 4. The UK-based group has always filed later than its peers, but this year the results have been put back by nearly two weeks (they usually file in late August).

Could this be because WPP hopes to have some news about a new CEO to replace Martin Sorrell, and doesn’t want it to get lost in the August bank holiday slowdown?

Five months should surely be enough to line up a replacement for Sorrell, who left the business in April after an investigation into claims of personal misconduct.

WPP hasn’t sat around under interim COOs Mark Read and Andrew Scott. Only this week the group has been pushing forward with negotiations to sell a minority stake of its Chinese business to Alibaba, Tencent and China Media. It has also announced the sale of GroupM’s sponsorship consultancy IEG.

Chairman Roberto Quarta, buoyed by shareholder support at WPP’s AGM in June, is likely to be even more active in nailing down a successor to Sorrell. Unless that job is done and dusted.

Read himself said at the AGM that WPP needed a “new beating heart,” and he’s clearly the internal favourite for the role, particularly with his background in digital. Some senior WPP leaders, however, think he may have missed his chance to prove himself when he failed to convince as a leader at the AGM.

Dentsu Aegis Group CEO Jerry Buhlmann is the other most talked about candidate, but Quarta could still surprise us. He needs to put WPP and its shareholders out of their misery once the summer’s over.

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