June 14, 2018 / 6:34 AM / 6 months ago

Norwegian wealth fund backed Sorrell's farewell pay at WPP AGM

FILE PHOTO: Sir Martin Sorrell, then chairman and CEO of advertising company WPP, attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, supported the farewell pay package of Martin Sorrell, the former CEO of advertising firm WPP (WPP.L), voting records show.

The most famous advertising executive in the world quit the marketing giant he built from scratch in April following an allegation of personal misconduct, prompting concerns among some investors over the handling of his departure.

Nearly 30 percent of shareholders opposed WPP’s executive pay proposal at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday. These included share awards to Sorrell that could be worth 20 million pounds, although they are expected to be well below that due to recent underperformance.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), WPP’s seventh largest owner with a two percent stake according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data, voted in favor however, and also backed the re-election of chairman Roberto Quarta, which was opposed by almost 17 percent of shareholders.

The fund, which frequently opposes pay deals it considers too complex or otherwise in breach of its guidelines, did not elaborate on its vote.

In March, NBIM voted against stock option grants to Tesla (TSLA.O) boss Elon Musk, and recently voted with activist shareholders at Facebook (FB.O), Alphabet (GOOG.O) and Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) on issues ranging from share buybacks to transparency and appointments.

Voting records from the last five years show NBIM backed all management proposals at meetings of WPP shareholders.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Alexander Smith

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