WPP Plc (WPP) will consult with shareholders about changing Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell’s remuneration after investors opposed his pay deal in a non-binding vote, said one person with knowledge of the matter.
About 60 percent of investors in WPP, the world’s biggest advertising agency, voted against the proposed pay, Jeffrey Rosen, head of the compensation committee, said at a meeting in Dublin today. The company will now approach shareholders to discuss options, which may include changes to performance targets, to reconcile the two sides, the person said, declining to be named as the plan is not public.
Investor groups including ISS and Glass Lewis urged shareholders to vote against the plan, including a 56 percent pay increase for Sorrell, and said the CEO’s remuneration is too high compared with other U.K. executives, joining a wider debate about executive pay in Europe. Sorrell and WPP have argued that the 67-year-old CEO’s pay, which was 6.3 million pounds ($9.8 million) in salary and bonus in 2011, should be compared to international rivals such as Omnicom Group Inc. (OMC:US) and Publicis Groupe SA.
WPP in April reported an increase in first-quarter sales of 7.6 percent to 2.4 billion pounds, ahead of its own budget. The company has been offsetting a slowdown in markets hit by the European debt crisis by acquiring digital advertising technology and companies in faster-growing markets such as China and Brazil. Sorrell announced more than a dozen deals in the quarter, scooping up assets in Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia.
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