Martin Sorrell steps down as CEO of advertising giant WPP

Chief executive officer of WPP Sir Martin Sorrell is stepping aside after 33 years with the firm

Sources familiar with the situation said that the outcome of the investigation, which is being carried out by U.S. law firm WilmerHale for WPP chairman Roberto Quarta, will be available by the end of the week. The company said Saturday the probe was over and "did not involve amounts that are material". Sorrell has denied the allegations, details of which have yet to publicly surface. "That is why I have decided that, in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside".

"Obviously I am sad to leave WPP after 33 years. Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you...now Back to the Future".

"During this time, the company has been successful because it has valued and nurtured outstanding talent at every level - within and well beyond our leadership teams".

After all, Sorrell is 73-years-old, has been the subject of an internal probe for alleged misconduct and WPP has struggled financially in recent quarters.

Mark Read, chief executive of Wunderman and WPP Digital, and Andrew Scott, WPP corporate development director and chief operating officer, WPP Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers of WPP. Below, a look at how his exit was greeted on social media.


Sorrell's 1985 investment in Wire & Plastic Products and string of acquisitions of advertising companies effectively founded WPP, making him an executive seen by some as irreplaceable for his direct access to clients and active hand on a sprawling network of agencies. He earned about 200 million pounds ($284 million) over the last five years, largely due to a lucrative performance-related bonus package. WPP's financial guidance has repeatedly proved too optimistic, and its shares have lost a third of their value over the past year - far more than rivals facing the same market challenges of reduced ad spending and competition from web giants.

The company is now hunting for a new CEO to replace Sorrell who has been in the role for 33 years.

The longest-serving CEO on the FTSE 100 blue chip index, Sorrell built WPP into one of Britain's biggest companies by three decades of relentless dealmaking.

Chairman Roberto Quarta takes over as executive chairman.

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