Other executive director policies
Legacy share awards and obligations
Under the Executive Remuneration Policy, outstanding awards under LEAP III, the long-term incentive plan that pre-dated the EPSP, and Sir Martin Sorrell’s deferred awards will be paid in accordance with the terms agreed at the time and set out in previous Compensation Committee reports. The key terms of Sir Martin’s deferred awards are summarised below.
Deferred awards (Sir Martin Sorrell only)
The Company has previously received share owner approval to allow Sir Martin Sorrell to defer receipt of his UK and US 2004, 2005 and 2007 LEAP awards and the UK part of his 2006 and 2009 LEAP awards. The UK awards are options that can be exercised at any time until November 2017. The US awards will vest on the earlier of the end of Sir Martin’s employment with the Company, a change in control of the Company and 30 November 2017. Additional shares will continue to accrue in respect of dividends paid up to the point of exercise (UK) or vesting (US).
The Company has also previously received share owner approval to allow Sir Martin Sorrell to defer receipt of the UK and the US Deferred Stock Units Awards Agreements (‘DSUs’). These are the awards that originally vested in 1999, having been granted in 1995 under the Capital Investment Plan. The UK DSU is an option that can be exercised at any time until November 2017. The US DSU will vest on the earlier of the end of Sir Martin’s employment with the Company, a change in control of the Company and 30 November 2017. In accordance with share owner approval, Sir Martin Sorrell receives cash dividend equivalent payments (‘DEPs’) in respect of these deferred awards as noted in the policy table.
Share ownership guidelines
With effect from 2013, executive directors and other members of the senior management team are subject to share ownership guidelines. The implementation of these guidelines seeks to reinforce the WPP principle of alignment of management’s interests with those of share owners.
The following levels of ownership are required to be achieved by the executive directors:
|% of base salary & fees|
|Group finance director||300%|
|Chief executive, WPP Digital and minimum for any other new executive appointed to the Board||200%|
Executive directors will be permitted a period of seven years from the date of their appointment to achieve the guideline level.
In the event that an executive director fails to achieve the required levels of share ownership, the committee will decide what remedial action or penalty is appropriate. This may involve a reduction in future share awards or requiring the director to purchase shares in the market to meet the ownership guidelines.
Appointments to the Board
This section sets out details with respect to the appointment of a new executive director to the Board of WPP, whether it is an external or internal appointment.
Base salary and fees will be set taking into account a range of factors including the profile and prior experience of the candidate, internal relativities, cost and external market data. If base salary and fees are set at a lower initial level contingent on individual performance, the committee retains the discretion to realign the base salary and fees over a phased period of one to three years following appointment, which may result in an exceptional rate of annualised increase in excess of that set out in the policy table.
Other elements of fixed pay will be set in accordance with the policy table, and a new appointment may require the committee to rely on the authorised discretion to make payments related to relocation, for example, in order to facilitate the appointment.
Ongoing variable compensation
The committee will seek to pay only that level of reward necessary to recruit the exceptional talent needed to lead such a complex global group. The actual level of incentive offered will be dependent on the role and existing package of the candidate. The aggregate maximum face value for annual short- and long-term variable compensation will be 10 times base salary and fees, which is materially lower than the current Group chief executive maximum level. The committee retains the discretion to make awards on recruitment, within the policy limits, to provide an immediate alignment of interest with the interests of share owners.
The committee may consider buying-out remuneration entitlements that the individual has had to forfeit by accepting the appointment. The structure and value of the awards will be informed by the structure and value of those entitlements being forfeited, and the performance targets, time horizon and vehicle will be set in an appropriate manner at the discretion of the committee. The intention of the committee is that any award will take the form of WPP shares and will be subject to performance as far as possible.
An announcement of the director’s appointment, detailing the incumbent’s compensation will be made on a timely basis through a regulatory information service and posted on the Company’s website.
The following terms will apply for any new executive role appointed to the Board in the future.
- Executives will normally be appointed on a notice period of up to 12 months, although the committee retains the discretion to appoint an external candidate on a notice period of up to 24 months reducing on a rolling basis to 12 months (such that after 12 months’ service the notice period would have reverted to the standard 12 months).
- At the committee’s discretion, any payment in lieu of notice will be restricted to base salary, fees, benefits and pension.
- On termination there will be no entitlements when classified as a bad leaver (defined within the incentive plans). Otherwise base salary, fees, benefits and pension allowance are payable as per the notice period and the committee will have the power to make phased payments that would be reduced or stopped if alternative employment is taken up.
Terms specific to internal appointments
The committee can honour any pre-existing commitments if an internal candidate is appointed to the Board.
The Company’s policy on executive directors’ service contracts is that they should be on a rolling basis without a specific end date.
The effective dates and notice periods under the current executive directors’ service contracts are summarised below:
|Effective from||Notice period|
|Sir Martin Sorrell||19 November 2008||‘At will’|
|Paul Richardson||19 November 2008||12 months|
|Mark Read||19 November 2008||6 months|
Sir Martin Sorrell’s service contract may be terminated by either the Company or Sir Martin without any notice, and without any payment in lieu of notice.
The executive directors’ service contracts are available for inspection at the Company’s registered office and head office.
Loss of office provisions
Fixed compensation elements
As noted above, the service contracts of Messrs Richardson and Read provide for notice to be given on termination. The fixed compensation elements of their contracts will continue to be paid in respect of any notice period. There are no provisions relating to payment in lieu of notice. If an executive director is placed on garden leave, the committee retains the discretion to settle benefits in the form of cash. The executive directors are entitled to compensation for any accrued and unused holiday although, to the extent it is possible and in share owner interests, the committee will encourage executive directors to use their leave entitlements prior to the end of their notice period.
Except in respect of any remaining notice period, no aspect of any executive director’s fixed compensation is payable on termination of employment. Sir Martin Sorrell’s service contract contains an indemnity, subject to certain conditions relating to previously deferred awards, from WPP in respect of any US tax which is charged under section 280G as a result of a termination linked to a change in control of WPP. Read further details.
Short- and long-term compensation elements
If the executive director is dismissed for cause there is no entitlement to a STIP award, and any unvested share-based awards will lapse. Otherwise, the table below summarises the relevant provisions from the directors’ service contracts (cash bonus) and the plan rules (RSP, EPSP and LEAP III) which apply in other leaver scenarios. As noted in the Notes to the policy table, the committee has the authority to ensure that any awards that vest or lapse are treated in accordance with the plan rules which are more extensive than the summary set out in the table below.
|Cash bonus||The executive directors are entitled to receive their bonus for any particular year provided they are employed on the last date of the performance period, except in the case of Mark Read where he gives notice of termination or is dismissed for cause before the payment date.|
|ESA||Provided the executive director is a Good Leaver, unvested awards will be reduced on a time pro-rata basis and paid on the vesting date.|
Other pre-existing terms that apply to Sir Martin Sorrell
- Sir Martin Sorrell’s deferred LEAP awards and his DSUs (read more) will be paid out unconditionally on termination of employment. The performance requirements in respect of these awards have already been met, the awards have vested and are therefore no longer subject to any leaver provisions.
- In the event any payments due to Sir Martin would be treated as ‘deferred compensation’ in accordance with US legislation and subject to section 409A requirements, those payments will be delayed. If those payments are delayed, an amount in respect of interest as a result of the delay will be due from the Company to Sir Martin.
- In the event of a change of control of WPP, the Company has agreed to indemnify Sir Martin, with the prior approval of share owners, with respect to any related personal US tax liability under the provisions of section 280G. This indemnity is subject to certain limitations that exempt the Company from liability for any tax related to the share owner approved deferrals of certain awards. Based on the most recent review by the committee in December 2013 of the potential impact of this clause, it is unlikely that any 280G payment would be due from the Company based on an analysis, using standard assumptions, that was reviewed by independent counsel.
Other committee discretions not set out above
- Leaver status: the committee has the discretion to determine an executive’s leaver classification in light of the guidance set out within the relevant plan rules, except with respect to Sir Martin Sorrell. Unless Sir Martin Sorrell is terminated for cause, he will be treated as having retired on leaving the Company and therefore be treated in accordance with the plan rules as a Good Leaver.
- Compromise agreements: the committee is authorised to reach compromise agreements with departing executives, informed by the default position set out above.
Executive directors are permitted to serve as non-executives on the boards of other organisations. If the Company is a share owner in that organisation, non-executive fees for those roles are waived. However, if the Company is not a share owner in that organisation, any non-executive fees can be retained by the office holder.
Chapter 9 of 13