LONDON (Reuters) - Martin Sorrell, who built WPP into the world’s biggest advertising agency through 33 years of dealmaking, quit on Saturday after an allegation of personal misconduct.
The departure of the CEO who built a two-man outfit into one of Britain’s biggest companies with 200,000 staff in 112 countries leaves WPP without a boss at a pivotal time for the industry and when the group is under great strain.
WPP stunned the market last week when it said it had appointed lawyers to investigate alleged misconduct by Sorrell. He denied the allegations but in a letter to WPP staff published late on Saturday he said the “current disruption” was “putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business”.
He said he had decided that “in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside”.
Chairman Roberto Quarta will become executive chairman until a new chief executive is found, while Mark Read, a WPP digital executive, and Andrew Scott, chief operating officer, Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers.
Read, who previously sat on WPP’s main board, is well regarded in the industry while Scott was involved in its acquisition strategy and was not involved with clients.
The company will consider internal and external candidates for the top job in a process that could take several months.
“Obviously I am sad to leave WPP after 33 years,” Sorrell said in a statement. “It has been a passion, focus and