Roberto Quarta
Roberto Quarta

WPP chairman Roberto Quarta defended the handling of the "extraction" of founder Martin Sorrell, telling shareholders at today's general meeting "the board acted appropriately throughout," according to the BBC.

Though the probe into the alleged personal misconduct of Sorrell involved monies that were "wholly immaterial to WPP," Quarta understands why some critics are upset with the ad firm's failure to provide details about the investigation.

Quarta assured investors that WPP acted in conjunction with "unequivocal legal advice." 

Following the Financial Times report that Sorrell allegedly verbally abused executive assistants and junior staffers, Quarta said WPP's policy is to treat all staffers with respect.

"Everyone at WPP should feel able to raise concerns and to have them listened to and acted upon as appropriate," he added.

In his opening remarks, Quarta emphasized that while the media spotlight shines on the messy Sorrell situation, "The relationship with clients are not held by a chairman or CEO but at the level of an operating company."

Meanwhile, WPP revenues slipped four percent to $4.8B for the Jan.-April period. Like-for-like revenues rose 0.8 percent.

WPP's PR/PA unit (Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Glover Park Group, Finsbury, Burson Cohn Wolfe) suffered a 7.1 percent slide to $350M in reported revenues (less pass-through costs) during the first four months of the year. This compares to a 5.1 percent drop for the overall group.

WPP says the PR/PA unit rebounded in April.

In its statement, WPP defines the corporate goal for the rest of the year as improving revenues to meet operating margin goals by managing costs, increasing cost flexibility and adjusting the cost structure to meet the significant changes in the communications market.