WPP CEO Martin Sorrell resigns in the wake of misconduct allegations

  • WPP CEO Martin Sorrell resigned from the advertising company on Saturday.
  • The move follows an investigation into allegations of improper behavior and misuse of assets.
  • Sorrell has denied the allegations, but said Saturday that the "current disruption" was "putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business."


WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell announced Saturday he was stepping down from the advertising company in the wake of an investigation into allegations of improper behavior and misuse of assets.

He said in a letter to staff that the "current disruption" was "putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business," Reuters reported.

"In your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside," he said.

Sorrell has previously denied the allegations to Business Insider but said he recognized the need for WPP to launch an investigation.

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Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising company WPP, attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising company WPP, speaks during an interview with CNBC at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
REFILE - CORRECTING HEADLINE Martin Sorrell CEO of WPP attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising company WPP, speaks during an interview with CNBC at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising company WPP, attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Martin Sorrell, chairman and chief executive officer of WPP, the world's largest advertising company, speaks at the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) annual conference in London, Britain November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Martin Sorrell, chairman and chief executive officer of WPP, the world's largest advertising company, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Shanghai, China, September 29, 2016. To match Interview WPP-CHINA/SORRELL REUTERS/Adam Jourdan
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of WPP, the world's largest advertising company, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Argentina Business and Investment Forum 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of WPP, the world's largest advertising company, attends an interview with Reuters during the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Martin Sorrell, British businessman and chief executive of the world's biggest advertising group WPP, performs a master class on the industry and how to develop it on the communist-run island during the First International Design Biennial of Havana, Cuba, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
WPP founder and CEO Martin Sorrell, speaks at the British chambers of Commerce annual conference in London Britain, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
WPP founder and CEO Martin Sorrell, speaks at the British chambers of Commerce annual conference in London Britain, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer of WPP, gestures during the session 'The BBC World Debate: A Richer World, but for Whom?' in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 23, 2015. More than 1,500 business leaders and 40 heads of state or government attend the Jan. 21-24 meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to network and discuss big themes, from the price of oil to the future of the Internet. This year they are meeting in the midst of upheaval, with security forces on heightened alert after attacks in Paris, the European Central Bank considering a radical government bond-buying programme and the safe-haven Swiss franc rocketing. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich (SWITZERLAND - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell poses for a photo during an interview with Thomson Reuters at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Panama City April 3, 2014. WPP, the world's largest advertising group, should be earning 15 percent of its revenue from Latin America in five years, Sorrell said on Thursday. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso (PANAMA - Tags: BUSINESS SOCIETY)
General Sport - Leaders Sport Summit 2013 - Stamford Bridge - 10/10/13 Session - Future of Media and Marketing: Sir Martin Sorrell - CEO WPP Group during the session Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Andrew Couldridge Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell attends a TV show during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener (SWITZERLAND - Tags: BUSINESS)
Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer of WPP, attends a Reuters Global Media and Technology Summit in Paris June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mal Langsdon (SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY MEDIA HEADSHOT)
Chief Executive of WPP Group and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Latin America, Martin Sorrell, speaks during the opening news conference with co-chairs during the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Rio de Janeiro April 28, 2011. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of WPP group, poses outside the company's offices as part of the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York November 28, 2011. Sorrell, head of the world's largest advertising company, warned on Monday that the debt crisis gripping the euro zone was merely a sideshow to the United States which will face its own funding crunch in 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: MEDIA BUSINESS PORTRAIT HEADSHOT)
Chief Executive of WPP Group, Martin Sorrell, speaks at the Institute of Directors IOD annual convention at the Albert Hall in London April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS)
WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell delivers a speech during a session at the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 26, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock (FRANCE BUSINESS)
WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell speaks at the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 25, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock (FRANCE BUSINESS)
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Sorrell was one of the more recognizable and outspoken figures in the advertising business, and recently garnered attention for taking a massive pay cut as WPP faces its worst growth prospects in roughly a decade. Sorrell led the British-based company for more than 30 years.

The traditional ad agency has been under tremendous pressure as the power in the industry has shifted to technology giants like Facebook and Google.

Meanwhile, the ad-agency sector as a whole has been accused of being less than supportive of women in leadership. For example, the Vice-owned creative agency Carrot is said to have fostered what many described as a hostile work environment for women.

Mike Shields and Tanya Dua contributed reporting.

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SEE ALSO: WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell is reportedly under investigation after allegations of misuse of assets and improper behavior

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