Sorrell’s pay hits £17.6m but WPP promises cuts

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GLOBAL advertising giant WPP has trimmed chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell’s pay package in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year’s shareholder rebellion.

Sorrell, who bought a stake in London-listed Wire & Plastic Products in 1985 as a shell company to start building his marketing business, will see his base salary cut by £150,000 this year to £1.15 million, with his total package expected to drop by 34 per cent compared with 2011.

News of Sorrell’s pay cut came as WPP’s annual report revealed that its chief executive took home a total of £17.6m last year, up 47.6 per cent on 2011.

His bumper haul came despite the firm’s compensation committee reducing the maximum amount he could earn under its long-term incentive plan by more than 23 per cent, with the upper-limit for its short-term incentive plan reduced to £5m from £6.5m.

The compensation committee said: “While share owners recognised the increased scale and complexity of WPP since the previous compensation changes in 2007, the global nature of the group and the exceptional performance and leadership of the chief executive, share owners nonetheless advised the company that they believed the chief executive’s 2011 remuneration package was too high relative to the UK market.

“Informed by extensive consultation with many of our major share owners, significant reductions have therefore been made to the chief executive’s remuneration package.”

News of Sorrell’s pay came amid reports WPP will appoint four non-executive directors: Roger Agnelli, ex-chief executive of Bradespar and Vale; Jacques Aigrain, chairman of market clearing house LCH Clearnet; Chinese venture capitalist Hugo Shong and Sally Susman, executive vice-president at Pfizer.