The chance of WPP being broken up has ‘dramatically increased’ — Goldman, UBS, and more react to Sir Martin Sorrell leaving

Sir Martin Sorrell Chief Executive WPP during Advertising Week Europe, Picadilly, on March 25, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by k)
Sir Martin Sorrell Chief Executive WPP during Advertising Week Europe, Piccadilly, on March 25, 2015 in London, England.
John Phillips/Getty Images for Advertising Week

LONDON — Sir Martin Sorrell announced on Saturday that he is leaving advertising giant WPP after 33 years as CEO.

His exit comes as something of a surprise — investors had no reason to expect his exit as recently as three weeks ago. But it was reported at the start of the month that Sorrell was subject to an internal investigation into alleged misconduct and misuse of assets.

Sorrell denied all the allegations against him but said in a letter to staff on Saturday that the “current disruption” was “putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business.”

WPP chairman Roberto Quarta will act as interim CEO until a replacement is found. Meanwhile, Mark Read, CEO of WPP’s Wunderman unit, and Andrew Scott, European COO, have been announced joint-COOs of WPP. Liberum’s media analyst Ian Whittaker says this “will heighten speculation that they will be the top contenders for the slot.”

Whittaker isn’t the only analyst reacting to Sorrell’s departure. Others are touting a potential breakup of WPP, the sell-off of minority investments, and even possible disruption to bids for key accounts.

Here’s what major analysts are saying:

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