Martin Sorrell’s abrupt exit from WPP Plc leaves the worldwide advertising empire in search of a new chief executive officer for the first time and vulnerable to a break-up, as the sprawling network of agencies faces its biggest challenges since the global financial crisis, reports Bloomberg, which added that “Sorrell’s departure late Saturday from the world’s largest ad company puts WPP’s omissions in grooming a successor to its 73-year-old founder into sharp focus, even with shareholders long flagging the issue. It also raises the prospect of a split, as WPP loses the man holding the empire together.
“The shares fell as much as 6.6 percent with WPP’s future strategy now unclear. Sorrell, who turned a 1985 investment in a wire shopping basket manufacturer into today’s behemoth of more than 200,000 employees, was long seen as irreplaceable — the man pulling the strings to connect its more than 400 agencies who create marketing campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola Co.
and Procter & Gamble Co. Now, the group faces pitches from investment bankers pushing asset sales or a more dramatic dissolution.
““The cataclysmic thing has happened,” Alex DeGroote, a media analyst at Cenkos Securities, said by phone. “People are scared there’s another profit warning coming. They are in a negative tailspin.””
In the D.C. area, WPP’s holding include:
- Blue State Digital
- Burson Marsteller
- Cohn & Wolfe
- Hill + Knowlton
- J. Walter Thompson
- The Glover Park Group
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