Arun Sudhaman 15 Apr 2018 // 1:11PM GMT
LONDON — WPP will consider both external and internal candidates as it searches for Sir Martin Sorrell's successor as CEO, according to a 'client Q&A' circulated last night and seen by the Holmes Report.
The memo notes that: "The Board will consider internal and external candidates to find the best leader to take WPP forward. This will be concluded as quickly as possible but there is no set timeframe. In the meantime, Mark Read and Andrew Scott are providing the leadership that the Group needs and business continues unaffected."
Read and Scott were named joint chief operating officers yesterday upon the dramatic news of Sorrell's exit, who leaves 33 years after taking charge of the holding group, which now numbers 200,000 staff in 400 separate businesses working in more than 3,000 offices in 112 countries.
The Q&A also expands on Read and Scott's specific duties. "[Read] will be responsible for clients, operating companies and people", while Scott "will focus on financial and operational performance and implementing the ongoing reorganisation of the group’s portfolio." They will report to WPP chairman Roberto Quarta who becomes executive chairman in the interim.
WPP's succession plan for Sorrell has long been a subject of intrigue, even as the company has previously claimed that it has a potential list of contenders in hand. While Read is commonly considered the top internal candidate, many investors and analysts believe the role — and the 'Sorrellcentricity' that came with it — can only be replaced from outside the company.
Beyond that, the client Q&A, which you can read in full below, largely sticks to the script regarding Sorrell's departure, failing to address the big questions regarding the internal misconduct probe that eventually led to the 73-year-old's departure.
The details of the investigation will remain confidential, according to the memo, and "had no connection to or impact on our operations or clients."
Client facing Q&A
Who will run the business until the appointment of a new CEO?
Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer 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. Mark will be responsible for clients, operating companies and people. Andrew will focus on financial and operational performance and implementing the ongoing reorganisation of the Group’s portfolio. They will report to and be supported by WPP Chairman Roberto Quarta who becomes Executive Chairman in the interim.
When will the new CEO be appointed?
The Board will consider internal and external candidates to find the best leader to take WPP forward. This will be concluded as quickly as possible but there is no set timeframe. In the meantime, Mark Read and Andrew Scott are providing the leadership that the Group needs and business continues unaffected.
Will the Group’s strategy change?
WPP’s strategy will continue to evolve to meet client needs.
What was the nature of the allegation against Sir Martin Sorrell?
The Board of WPP appointed independent counsel to conduct an investigation in response to an allegation of misconduct against Sir Martin. The allegation did not involve amounts that are material. The investigation has concluded and the details will remain confidential.
Did the investigation or allegation relate to client business in any way?
Has there been/will there be any operational impact on WPP companies, client teams or client business?
No. The investigation had no connection to or impact on our operations or clients. Our work for clients is unaffected and continues uninterrupted.
Why has Sir Martin Sorrell stepped down?
Sir Martin has said he believes it is in the best interests of the Company that he steps down. 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.
What public statements has WPP made?
The statements issued by WPP are attached, together with the statements issued by Sir Martin.