Shareholders Oppose Re-election of WPP Directors

19 June 2002

WPP Group shareholders are being urged not to re-elect two of the agency giant’s board members at its annual general meeting on Monday next.

The National Association of Pension Funds, a body investing some £650 billion ($964bn; €1,017bn) in pensions capital, is urging its members to vote against the re-election of former J Walter Thompson chairman Jeremy Bullmore and biotechnology investor Stanley Morten, who have served on the board for fourteen and eleven years respectively.

Post-Enron jitters have prompted the NAPF to argue that the duo are not sufficiently independent, especially given that both sit on the important audit committee. Morten is also chairman of the compensation committee.

In addition, the pensions group takes exception to Bullmore’s age (he is over 70, as are two other board members), recommending the appointment of younger directors.

However, WPP defended the duo, revealing that proxy voting received to date was “overwhelmingly in favour of [Bullmore and Morten’s] re-election.”

It added that Bullmore, who is also paid a consultancy fee by WPP, has never been regarded as one of its independent directors.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff