WPP's CEO Sir Martin Sorrell resigns

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Adland is digesting the implications of the unexpected weekend resignation of Sir Martin Sorrell from his position as chief executive officer of WPP, with speculation that the world's largest ad business could be broken up and that Sorrell could start a new advertising business. While the timing was sudden (and perhaps calculated to limit immediate PR damage), his exit is not all that surprising.

WPP had also hired a law firm to investigate claims of financial impropriety against him, but the company said that probe had concluded. "The allegation did not involve amounts that are material", WPP said in a statement last night. Below, a look at how his exit was greeted on social media.

"That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all share owners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside". "However, I believe it is in the best interests of the business if I step down now".

Chairman Roberto Quarta will become executive chairman until a new chief executive has been appointed.

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Despite the misconduct investigation, some commentators said it was the fact that the company had lost a third of its value over the past 12 months - in the face of competition from the likes of Google and Facebook - that cost Sorrell his post.

Sir Martin said a succession plan had been in place "for some time" and a "new generation of management" were well placed to "deal with the geographic and technological opportunities and challenges" faced by the industry.

The acquisitions included the J Walter Thompson Group, the Young & Rubicam Group and the Ogilvy Group.

In March WPP reported its weakest annual results since the financial crisis, with Sir Martin describing 2017 as "not a pretty year" for the company even though pre-tax profits were just over £2bn.

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Present in 112 countries, WPP serves clients including Ford, Unilever, P&G and a string of major corporations around the world.

He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. Its shares are down around 30 percent this year.

Sorrell said: "Obviously I am sad to leave WPP after 33 years. Now back to the future".

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