Sir Martin Sorrell steps down from WPP following claims of personal misconduct

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

The chief executive of the world's largest advertising agency, WPP, is stepping down with immediate effect.

Sorrell's final full-year pay as chief executive for 2017 will be made public when WPP publishes its annual report in about a month.

WPP said Sorrell would be treated as having retired, with chairman Roberto Quarta becoming executive chairman until a new chief executive is appointed.

Sir Martin built a £20bn global business from scratch, amassing a personal fortune, and his views on trends in world business were much sought after around the globe.

"Obviously I am sad to leave WPP after 33 years".

Sorrell has been for personal misconduct since April 3.

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WPP said that the probe had concluded, adding "the allegation did not involve amounts that are material". As some of you know, my family has expanded recently, WPP will always be my baby too.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. He has denied the allegations.

"It wasn't a boardroom battle but the way they behaved in his eyes, the manner they handled the investigation, in the end he thought I'm 73-years old I don't need this s**t", one person close to the process said.

Shares in WPP are expected to fall tomorrow when the markets open.

Mr Sorrell is among the most influential advertising professionals globally and also the longest-serving FTSE-100 chief executive, who has run WPP since setting up the business in 1985.

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.

"His departure will leave the company he built virtually from ‎scratch facing profound questions about its future direction", he said.

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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.

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.

By his own admission, WPP got "walloped" a year ago and the company has lost a third of its value.

I've never met anyone who could explain any logic behind the way WPP's empire was constructed, and shareholders are now ready for a change.

WPP declined to comment on the pace of the investigation or succession planning.

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