WPP chief Martin Sorrell is deeply disturbed and wounded that some institutional investors are upset with his proposed 60 percent hike in total compensation. He needs to get over it.
[Full disclosure: I’m a fan of Sorrell for two reasons. He deserves praise for building Wire & Plastics Products from a one-room operation in London 27 years ago into the global WPP communications enterprise, and for serving as spokesperson for the communications business.]
However, his defense of the comp hike published yesterday in the Financial Times is over the top, especially when the global economy is in the dumps, and a bit whiny.
Sorrell wrote: “I have no contract with the company, am “at will” and can be dismissed or leave instantly without compensation or restriction. It’s hard to shed a tear for a 67-year-old guy who informed us two lines earlier that his overall investment in WPP is worth about $225M.
Sorrell wants to be compensated as owner and entrepreneur and not some flunky “high paid manager” or bureaucrat “who loads up with “heads I win, tails you lose” options by just being there.” That’s a slight to the other 160K WPPers.
The FT ran a piece today, predicting that Sorrell’s pay defense piece may backfire when shareholders vote on the comp package next week. One big investor told the paper that Sorrell “refuses to consider shareholder views.”
Though WPP owns PR powerhouses like Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR Worldwide, Cohn & Wolfe and RLM Finsbury, its CEO has a lot to learn about PR.