Martin Sorrell quits as CEO of ad firm WPP

Sir Martin Sorrell has overseen the transformation of WPP from a small maker of shopping trolleys to a global advertising giant

The company is now hunting for a new CEO to replace Sorrell who has been in the role for 33 years.

The 73-year-old founder of WPP resigned ahead of an investigation into alleged "personal misconduct and misuse of company assets", which he has denied.

The news is likely to impact the share price of WPP as well as have wider implications for the advertising industry, including WPP AUNZ. The allegations do not involve amounts which are material to WPP as the holding company.

The company said Sorrell would be available to assist with the transition, and the man synonymous with the British marketing group told the staff they would come through this hard time. "Obviously, I shall play no part in the management of the investigation under way", he added.

Chairman Roberto Quarta will become executive chairman until a new chief executive is found, while Mark Read, a WPP digital executive, and Andrew Scott, chief operating officer, Europe, have been appointed as joint chief operating officers. I reject the allegation unreservedly but recognize that the company has to investigate it. "There is no other Sir Martin Sorrell in the world". He will be treated as having retired on leaving WPP, as detailed in the Directors' Compensation Policy. WPP's shares have lost a third of their value of the past year - far more than rivals facing the same market challenges of reduced ad spending and competition from web giants - as its financial guidance has repeatedly proved too optimistic.

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With WPP operating in more than countries, Sir Martin has cultivated a global reputation as a commentator on economic and political matters, forging relationships with government ministers, financiers and corporate bosses around the world.

Some multinational advertisers, including P&G, which owns ‎Ariel and Gillette, have signalled their intention to take more of their marketing services activity in-house, reducing the lucrative work for which they are charged by external agencies.

However, the firm has struggled in the a year ago, with shares falling back from heights above £19 in February to less than £12 at the close of markets last Friday.

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

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