Martin Sorrell steps down as CEO of advertising giant WPP

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WPP has said that Sir Martin will assist with the transition of the new leadership and will be treated as having retired, in accordance with his "at-will employment agreement".

He had been under investigation by WPP but had rejected any claim of financial impropriety. This means Sorrell will be eligible to receive payouts related to 1.6m shares in a number of award plans that will vest over the next five years.

The departure of the CEO who built a two-man outfit into one of Britain's biggest companies with 200,000 staff in 112 countries leaves WPP without a boss at a pivotal time for the industry and when the group is under great strain.

"As a significant share owner, my commitment to the company, which I founded over 30 years ago, remains absolute - to our people, our clients, our shareholders, and all of our many stakeholders", Sorrell said in a statement after the investigation began.

"The allegation did not involve amounts that are material", it said.

Sorrell has resigned under a cloud and his PR Companies are working overtime to protect the reputation of the world's largest advertising and communications group. I leave the Company in very good hands, as the Board knows. Meanwhile, CEO of Wunderman and WPP Digital, Mark Read, as well as WPP corporate development director and COO, Europe, Andrew Scott, have been appointed as joint COOs of WPP.

The world's biggest ad group chose to launch the investigation into its chief executive after a whistleblower made allegations.

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Meanwhile, Roberto Quarta, chairman of WPP, will become executive chairman until the appointment of Sorrell's full-time successor is made.

"Mark and Andrew are both highly accomplished and experienced executives who have the board's complete confidence", Quarta said in an emailed note to employees, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg.

He used that firm as a vehicle to gobble up various other global ad icons such as Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and another 18 other advertising service providers over three years.

Sorrell's last few words in his farewell note will not only tug at WPP staff's heartstrings but nearly anyone's.

Several people who have attended WPP board meetings in the past identified Sol Trujillo, a former US telecoms boss, as a non-executive director who sometimes asked the most challenging questions.

For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP.

"As a founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that", Sorrell said.

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