Advertising veteran Sir Martin Sorrell has said the board of WPP “finally came to their senses” over his £2m bonus, which it has paid out almost a year after his abrupt exit.
Speaking at Advertising Week Europe this evening Sorrell, who left the ad group amid allegations of misconduct, denied any wrongdoing as he took a shot at his former colleagues at WPP.
“There was an investigation, that investigation found nothing material and I left as a good leaver,” he said. “And last week they finally agreed to pay up the incentive agreements.”
Last year WPP threatened to cut Sorrell’s long-term incentive payout, which could be worth up to £20m. But the firm capitulated last week and paid the former boss his first instalment of £2.13m in shares.
Asked about his previous comments that he would only leave WPP if he was shot, the ad executive said: “I did get shot. I wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest.”
“The other advice I would give to anybody who’s interested is choose your board carefully,” he added.
But the industry veteran, who has since set up a new firm called S4 Capital, still felt free to draw comparisons with his old company, which has embarked on a transformation strategy after chief executive Mark Read described its structure as “unwieldy”.
“The six holding companies – and indeed Accenture and Deloitte, in my view – are running into the same trap,” Sorrell said. “And that is you think you can buy a whole series of small businesses and just keep them separate. You just can’t do that, it just doesn’t work effectively.”
S4 Capital has already snapped up smaller digital advertising firms Media Monks and Mightyhive, but Sorrell insisted the company is looking to create a single brand with longevity.
“If you want to sell your business I’m not interested. I want to build long-term brands,” he said.
Sorrell said S4 Capital, which posted a large rise in full-year revenue earlier this week, is opening new offices in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Korea.
And while he predicted a “bumpy” ahead, Sorrell said he was aiming to reach a market capitalisation of $1bn (£743m).