10 October 2000

WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell is said to be eyeball-to-eyeball with a number of influential investors over the appointment of a new chairman to replace 72-year old Hamish Maxwell, holder of the non-executive position since 1988.

When WPP acquired Young & Rubicam earlier this year, Sorrell committed himself to appointing a Y&R board member to the WPP chair. Industry observers regarded it as a two horse race: Sir Christopher Lewinton, also chairman of engineering group TI; and Warren Hellman of US investment company Hellman & Freidman. The latter was hot favourite but declined on the grounds that he was "too busy".

Sorrell’s preference is said to be Lewinton – a choice not much to the liking of certain major WPP investors, who point to the recent decline in TI’s share price and the fact that Lewinton’s annual take-home pay of £1.4 million is £400,000 more than Sir Martin’s.

Nor have other members of the Y&R board found much favour in investors’ eyes; instead they are urging Sorrell to break his promise and seek a chairman from a non-Y&R background.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)