Martin Sorrell quits as head of world's biggest ad group WPP

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The company said Sorrell would be available to assist with the transition, and the man synonymous with the British marketing group told the staff they would come through this hard time. WPP's shares have lost a third of their value of the past year-far more than rivals facing the same market challenges-as its financial guidance has repeatedly proved too optimistic.

WPP's directors have been in frequent contact by telephone since the allegations emerged and people close to the company played down Tuesday's face-to-face board meeting.

Sorrell, one of Britain's best-known businessmen, denied any wrongdoing after the allegations surfaced earlier this month, but said he understood the company had to investigate.

WPP said the probe had concluded, adding that "the allegation did not involve amounts that are material".

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"Obviously I am sad to leave WPP after 33 years", Sorrell says in a statement. In addition, Mark Read, chief executive of Wunderman and WPP Digital, and Andrew Scott, a top executive at WPP's European operation, have been appointed chief operating officers.

The world's biggest ad group chose to launch the investigation into its chief executive after a whistleblower made allegations.

To fill the leadership vacuum while a successor is found Roberto Quarta, the WPP chairman, will take an executive chairman role.

Sorrell's 1985 investment in Wire & Plastic Products and string of acquisitions of advertising companies effectively founded WPP, making him an executive seen by some as irreplaceable for his direct access to clients and active hand on a sprawling network of agencies.

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He used that firm as a vehicle to gobble up various other global ad icons such as Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and another 18 other advertising service providers over three years.

Wpp Plc (LON:WPP)'s stock had its "buy" rating restated by stock analysts at Liberum Capital in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday. You have given me such excitement and energy and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done and will do for WPP and me.

A new generation of management, led by Mark Read and Andrew Scott (who have each been at WPP for approximately 20 years), are well qualified and experienced in the Board's opinion, to deal with the geographic and technological opportunities and challenges our industry faces.

WPP provided us with the following statement.

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Analysts believe Sorrell's departure combined with a share price slump of nearly a third over the past year means investors and the WPP board will have to consider that there is potentially more value in breaking up WPP. "Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you".

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