WHILE the strongest and least surprising shareholder revolt was directed at Sir Martin Sorrell’s pay package yesterday, WPP’s directors did not escape unscathed.
More than a fifth of investors rejected the re-election of remuneration committee chair Jeffrey Rosen and non-executive directors Ruigang Li and Koichiro Naganuma, in a further sign of shareholder discontent with the ad company’s management.
Almost 22 per cent declined to back Rosen’s re-election to the board. Li’s position was rejected by 27.8 per cent of shareholders, while 29.7 per cent voted against Naganuma’s directorship.
Just under 12 per cent of WPP’s stake holders declined to back the re-election of Philip Lader, the company’s chairman.
Jeffrey Rosen, chairman of WPP’s compensation committee, has faced criticism for his involvement in Sorrell’s pay rise. Before joining the WPP board in 2004, Rosen was at Wasserstein Perella where he advised on WPP’s financial restructuring in 1992 – leading shareholder advisory group Pirc to question the pay chairman’s independence in his dealings with the ad company.
Former White House deputy chief of staff Philip Lader, now a senior adviser to Morgan Stanley, has been WPP chairman since 2001. While he maintained WPP had exercised “best commercial judgment” and was acting in the best interest of shareholders, Lader conceded in the run up to the general meeting that the board would be willing to reassess Sorrell’s pay if shareholders voiced dissent.