Martin Sorrell is stepping down as chief executive of the world’s largest advertising company WPP after the board investigated an allegation of misconduct.
In a statement to WPP employees, Sorrell said the disruption was putting “too much unnecessary pressure on the business”.
He said that it was in the best interest of the company for him to step aside.
“As a founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that,” Sorrell said in the statement. “Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you.”
Sorrell has been the face of the company since he founded it in 1985. The holding group employs over 200,000 people in more than 400 companies across 112 countries.
Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser was quoted by Reuters as saying that Sorrell’s departure is negative considering “how instrumental he has been in assembling the assets WPP has today.”
“Any executive filling Sorrell’s shoes needs to orchestrate assets across the holding company and doing so is a challenge in a fragmented federation of businesses such as those which exist within WPP,” Wieser said.
Sorrell was very well compensated as chief executive, earning circa £210 million (nearly $300 million) over 5 years.
The BBC reports that Sorrell could still make almost £20m from WPP shares over the next five years as he remains entitled to long-term share bonus awards. WPP insiders have also said that because Sorrell didn’t have a non-compete agreement, he is free to start a rival company.
Llast month WPP reported its weakest annual results since the financial crisis. Sorrell said 2017 was “not a pretty year”