Leaders in the spotlight: Sir Martin Sorrell

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Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell is a British businessman and founder of WPP.

Born in London, England on 14 February 1945. Sorrell was educated at the independent Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, then studied Economics at Christ’s College, Cambridge, and gained an MBA from Harvard University in 1968.

Following this, Sorrell joined Glendinning Associates, then James Gulliver and then worked for the sports agent Mark McCormack. He joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 1975, and was group finance director from 1977 until 1984.

One year later, in 1985, Sorrell privately invested in Wire and Plastic Products, a British wire shopping basket manufacturer, becoming chief executive in 1987.

During his first year as CEO, Sorrell began to acquire advertising-related companies, purchasing 18 in three years, eventually purchasing marketing communications company J. Walter Thompson for $566 million.

Sorrell followed this in 1989 with a $825 million acquisition of advertising, marketing and public relations agency Ogilvy and Mather. Since 2000, WPP has also acquired two more global agency networks, Young & Rubicam and Grey.

In 2000, he was included in the New Years Honours list.

In 2005, Sorrell sold £9 million of shares in WPP at the end of a restricted stock holding period. He also agreed to change a contract with the company which had been much criticised by institutional shareholders in WPP as being unfairly written in Sorrell’s favour.

In the same year, Sorrell’s pay was a reported £2.42 million including cash and bonuses. Further he exercised £52 million in share options, is entitled to a further £5.8million in stock, and deferred further options on another 2.65 million shares valued at £15 million until 2008.

In 2014, Sorrell received total compensation from WPP of GBP £40 million, his largest annual total since £53 million in 2004.

In 2017, Sorrell became the longest-serving CEO of any company featured in the UK.’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index.

In April 2018, Sorrell retired from WPP after 33 years, following allegations of personal misconduct and misuse of company assets. Sorrell has denied the allegations. Roberto Quarta, chairman of WPP, become executive chairman until the appointment of a new chief executive officer.

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