The hall of the Southbank Centre, in London, was packed full and no less than thirteen representatives of the board of directors and of the company were sitting in the gallery. It is, however, an absentee who has been the most noticed Wednesday, June 13, at the annual general meeting of WPP, the world’s number one advertise. Martin Sorrell, the man who founded the company in 1985, and led it with an iron hand for over three decades, was not there. It has not yet been referred to.
On the 14th of April, Mr. Sorrell, who clung to his seat for years, despite his 73 years, and the growing pressure of shareholders, was forced to resign after an investigation into his personal conduct and his use of company money. The exact reasons ? Neither the company nor Mr. Sorrell has revealed, after signing a confidentiality agreement. On Wednesday, the executive chairman, Roberto Quarta, has once again kept silent, refusing to reveal anything.
For weeks, however, the rumor was circulating in London. The very authoritarian and charismatic boss, a regular in the international conferences and the Forum of Davos, from his life on airplanes, would have tended to confuse his private expenditures and those made for the company. Another rumor was then taken over : Mr. Sorrell would have had recourse to prostitutes, at the expense of WPP.
A boss who dealt with the small staff with contempt
The Wall Street Journal was the first to dare to write it publicly. In a long investigation, the Financial Times has taken over on the 11th of June. The bible of the financial community british describes a boss angry, dealing with the small staff with contempt.
One incident sums up the atmosphere that surrounded him. One night, exhausted after twelve days of work as a result, his driver had brought back the wife of Mr. Sorrell at 2 o’clock in the morning in the marital home. It was then…