WPP chief's salary jumps 80% to £1.6m after bonus

LONDON - Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, saw his salary leap to £1.6m last year as he took a bonus of £731,000, the year in which the company reported a 50% fall in pre-tax profits to £205.5m.

The company, owner of agencies J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, defended Sir Martin's pay deal, which represents a rise of 80% on last year and brings his remuneration package to £1.6m.

The jump is due to Sir Martin waiving his bonus in 2001, but taking a £731,000 bonus in the form of restricted shares for 2002.

His official salary, without bonus, is £839,000, down by £10,000 on last year. The company contributed £336,000 in pension payments for him, down by £3,000 last year. Sir Martin has a three-year contract with WPP, despite the corporate governance code recommending that executive directors be moved to 12-month notice periods.

According to the Financial Times, WPP's compensation committee has agreed to make an exception for Sir Martin on moving executive directors to 12-month notice periods, because of investments he made under WPP's leadership equity acquisition plan and other commitments, which include non-compete covenants.

Shareholders are to vote on whether WPP should extend by three years the exercise period on options covering shares given to Sir Martin in 1993 and 1994.

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