05 April 2018

WPP brings in Wilmerhale to conduct CEO Sir Martin Sorrell investigation

The company has hired US law firm Wilmerhale to look into claims against one of the top advertising gurus.

The board of WPP has appointed Wilmerhale, a law firm with headquarters in Boston and Washington as well as an office in London, as independent counsel to investigate allegations of ‘personal misconduct’ against its CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell. In a statement, WPP said “The Board of WPP has appointed independent counsel to conduct an investigation in response to an allegation of personal misconduct against Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer of WPP. The investigation is ongoing. The allegations do not involve amounts which are material to WPP.” Mr Sorrell has instructed London firm Lewis Silkin to represent him in relation to the inquiry.

Misuse of assets to be investigated

Sources also told The Wall Street Journal the investigation is looking into possible misuse of company assets. Mr Sorrell joined WPP in 1986 as a director, becoming group chief executive in the same year, and has led WPP for more than 30 years. He recently announced with much publicity a significant pay cut from WPP, after a disappointing financial performance and WPP’s steepest decline in stock value since 1999. Mr Sorrell took a bonus of around $14 million last year compared with $58.5 million the previous year. Group chief counsel and Head of Sustainability at WPP is Andrea Harris, who joined the company in 1996.