LONDON – The board investigation by British multinational advertising and public relations company WPP that preceded the exit of Martin Sorrell as chief executive addressed whether he used company money for a prostitute, people familiar with the matter said.
The Wall Street Journal reported in April that the board of the advertising giant was looking into an allegation of improper personal behavior and whether its chief executive had misused company assets, and that the board had retained a law firm for a probe.
WPP said at the time the allegation didn’t involve sums that were material to the company. Sorrell said then that he rejected the allegation “unreservedly.”
Later that month, the British company said it had concluded its investigation and that Sorrell had stepped down.
It is unclear what the probe determined.
In a statement Friday, a spokesman for Sorrell said, “When Sir Martin Sorrell stepped down from WPP he signed a nondisclosure agreement which he has adhered to and will continue to adhere to.”
“The Company has not disclosed details of the allegation of personal misconduct against Sir Martin Sorrell because it is prohibited by data protection law from giving such details,” a WPP spokesman said in a statement Friday. “Martin chose to resign after the conclusion of the investigation.”
Under the terms of his departure, Sorrell, 73 years old, is eligible to receive a maximum of some 1.6 million shares from various long-term incentive programs.
At WPP’s current share price of GBP12.16, the full awards are worth more than GBP19 million, or more than $25 million. These shares will vest over the next five years, according to WPP.
Sorrell, who didn’t have a noncompete clause in his contract, is planning to create an ad company.