April 28, 2017 / 9:40 AM / 6 months ago

WPP to cut Sorrell's pay in 2017 after investor backlash

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency, will cut the amount it pays its chief executive and founder Martin Sorrell to no more than 19 million pounds ($24.6 million) after an investor backlash sparked by previous record payouts.

In its annual report released on Friday, the company said the maximum Sorrell would receive this year would be well below the 48 million pounds he received in 2016 and the 70 million pounds in 2015 - one of the biggest ever payouts in Britain.

Sorrell’s pay is being reduced as the company moves to a different incentive scheme.

WPP has outperformed its rivals in recent years but the scale of Sorrell’s rewards has riled some investors. A third of shareholders refused to back the 70 million pound package at a fractious meeting in June last year.

One of the best known businessmen in Britain, Sorrell built the advertising group WPP from a two-man operation in a London office in 1985 to one that now dominates the industry with around 134,000 staff in more than 100 countries.

He says that during his 30 years in charge he has put his own money into the firm and reinvested nearly all his income to buy WPP stock, meaning all his wealth and interests are tied up in the future of the company.

Executive pay is a hot political topic in Britain after Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to use her time in office to help those who voted for Brexit in protest at “out of touch” elites and inequality.

WPP reported first quarter results that were slightly below forecasts on Thursday, held back by a weaker performance in North America. ($1 = 0.7733 pounds) (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Keith Weir)

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