WPP and Sorrell back in the ring over bonus payments

The catchweight contest between WPP and founder and former CEO Sir Martin Sorrell is entering round 37. Campaign’s sleuths have discovered (subscription required) from WPP’s annual report that Sorrell’s former empire will not pay out two final long term payments agreed when he left the company – as a “good leaver” – in 2018.

These are believed to amount about £400,000.

The annual report says: “The Compensation Committee exercised its discretion under the terms of the EPSP to make malus adjustments.”

“It determined that the 2016 and 2017 EPSP Awards granted to Sir Martin Sorrell, the former Group Chief Executive, will lapse as a result of Sir Martin Sorrell’s disclosure of confidential information belonging to WPP and certain of its clients to the media during his tenure as a WPP director.”

Sorrell (above) told the magazine: “Just another case of peanut envy. First, WPP tried to outbid S4 for MediaMonks, offering at the death up to an eye-watering €1.5 billion in an earn-out, when we won the Company for €300 million.

“Next, WPP blew $1 billion by selling their 20% stake in Globant at 52p (it now trades at over 220p), because it was associated with the Ancien Regime. Now, this petty move, three years after I left, over a relatively small number of shares and with WPP’s recent poor share price performance. It’s nonsense.

He continued: “It’s a bit rich that they’re accusing me of leaks, given their own over the last three years. They’ve had to go back several years to try and find an excuse to deny me what’s mine. I’ve left it to my lawyers to deal with. It seems like blind rage is driving them, not peanut or even coconut envy.”

Sorrell described his new venture S4 Capital as a peanut, in comparison to WPP, when he set it up. It’s actually a pretty big nut these days, valued at £3bn against WPP’s £11bn.

What would we do without him (them)? Let’s hope this one makes it to court, in the interests of innocent entertainment of course. WPP’s board has some pretty heavyweight and combative non-execs on it, so it just might.

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