WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell quits advertising agency

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Mark Read, chief executive of Wunderman and WPP Digital, and Andrew Scott, WPP corporate development director and chief operating officer, Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers of WPP.

"I will particularly miss the daily interactions with everyone across the world and want to thank them and their families for all they have done, and will do, for WPP", Sorrell added.

Sorrell's unique relationship with WPP allowed him to run it autocratically with an iron hand - leading to a "Sorrellcentricity" that critics say had made it his personal fiefdom.

The company added that the allegations did "not involve amounts which are material to WPP", implying that the potential misuse of company funds form‎ed part of the probe.

Sorrell, who founded the British ad giant and has been at the helm for the past 33 years, stepped down less than a fortnight after the group launched an independent investigation into the allegations.

"His departure will leave the company he built virtually from ‎scratch facing profound questions about its future direction", he said. The appointments would likely be on an interim basis while a search is conducted, one of the people said. He invested in a manufacturing company called Wire and Plastic Products Plc, took over as chief executive and converted the company into a marketing firm. "However, there will be great interest in resolving the full-time CEO role as soon as possible".

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For years, the board supported his outsize pay packages amid shareholder complaints because he delivered.

The Sunday Times newspaper's Rich List 2017 said he was worth £495 million, with his assets up £100 million over the previous 12 months.

WPP on March 1 lowered its long-term profit outlook after reporting its worst annual performance since the global financial crisis, capping a string of disappointments that put Sorrell on the defensive.

WPP declined to comment on Saturday evening, while Sir Martin could not be reached for comment.

The era of advertising Sorrell ushered in has been about scale as a handful of big players - WPP, France's Publicis and Havas, Japan's Dentsu and New York-based Interpublic and Omnicom - have hoovered up smaller agencies.

In accordance with his at-will employment agreement, Sir Martin will be treated as having retired on leaving WPP, as detailed in the Directors' Compensation Policy, the press statement read.

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