WPP announced last week that it had hired a law firm to investigate Sir Martin’s conduct following allegations of financial impropriety regarding his use of company funds.
In a statement focussing on the successes of the company since its founding in 1986, Sir Martin pointed to the disruption the recent allegations were causing.
“That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest in all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside,” he stated.
The statement also addressed a succession plan, which Sir Martin said the company has had in place “for some time”.
Mark Read, CEO of Wunderman and WPP digital, and Andrew Scott, WPP corporate development director and COO of WPP Europe, have been appointed as Joint COOs of WPP.
However, Alex DeGroote, an analyst at Cenkos Securities, told City AM that Sir Martin’s exit will trigger the beginning of an “orderly break up” of WPP.
It has also been suggested that Big Four firm Deloitte or professional services firm Accenture may be interested in parts of WPP’s digital offering.
Deloitte has declined to comment.
Sir Martin has been one of the UK’s highest paid CEOs – earning £48m last year – and has faced of a number of shareholder revolts over his remuneration package in recent years.