Jeffrey Rosen, whose independence has been questioned by shareholder advisory group Pirc, is set to face opposition over his re-election to the board.
WPP is also braced for its pay report to be defeated, driven by anger over Sorrell’s £12.9m package. A series of investor groups have lined up against Sorrell’s deal, with Pirc opposed to its “excessiveness” while the Association of British Insurers has issued a “red top” warning, its highest level of disapproval.
Yesterday Liz Murrall, director of corporate governance at the Investment Management Association, brushed off Sorrell’s suggestion that Britain’s hostility to executive pay deals is out of step with rest of the world: “He is in a public UK-listed company that has grown through using UK shareholder funds. It is not an owner-managed business and his pay needs to come in line with UK standards.”
Sorrell has argued he deserves his pay package for turning WPP into the world’s leading advertising group with more than 160,000 employees across 108 nations.
WPP has said Sorrell’s pay is performance related and reflects the firm’s fast growth in emerging markets and through digital marketing while the mature Western markets struggle.