A public sector pension investment body has urged the 70 funds it advises to reject Sir Martin Sorrell’s £70.4m pay package at WPP’s AGM tomorrow.
The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) joins shareholder advisory firms Pirc and ShareSoc in recommending the package be voted against.
Kieran Quinn, chairman of LAPFF, said: “Most shareholders will, in the main, accept what they consider a reasonable level of pay for performance.
“However, with WPP, we consider there are several aspects of the payment which do not reflect this, and we are advising our member funds to oppose the remuneration report on this basis.”
The advertising company has defended Sorrell’s £70.4m 2015 package, which includes a £62.8m long-term bonus.
WPP’s annual report said: “While the value of Sir Martin Sorrell’s award is very large, it was the result of an outstanding set of returns to share owners.”
When it was published, media analysts from Shorecap and Hargreaves Lansdown, as well as the dean of the School of Communication Arts’ London Advertising School, defended the package.
And proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) last month asked shareholders to vote in favour of the packet.
But shareholder groups have taken less kindly to the WPP founder’s 2015 pay.
ShareSoc described the package as “far too high”, while Pirc noted that Sorrell’s variable pay was 58 times his £1.2m salary, exceeding its advised ratio of 200 per cent of base salary.
In an interview in April, Sorrell defended his pay package.
Asked if he feared a shareholder revolt at WPP's AGM, he told Press Association: “We have shareholder votes every year. It is what it is. Shareholders will decide. It's very democratic. We're always engaged with shareholders with anything and everything.”
He added: “Most of my wealth, if not all of it, is and has been for the last 31 years tied up in the success of WPP. So if WPP does well, I do well, and others in the company do well. If we do badly, we suffer.”