A first gen entrepreneur of Ukrainian descent, he rose out of nowhere to build the world's largest advertising group.
Several people who have attended WPP board meetings in the past identified Sol Trujillo, a former USA telecoms boss, as a non-executive director who sometimes asked the most challenging questions.
Martin Sorrell, architect & CEO of WPP, resigned today following the probe launched earlier this month into allegations of his "personal misconduct" and misuse of corporate assets. Whatever Sir Martin says about a smooth transition, the fact that the chairman, Roberto Quarta, is stepping in to run the company shows the ground had not been properly prepared.
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.
Sky News has learnt that WPP, which owns a string of global advertising and media buying networks supplying numerous world's biggest companies, is preparing to announce Sir Martin's departure as soon as Saturday night. It made no further comment but repeated a previous statement that the allegation did not involve amounts that were material to the company.
Sorrell will be treated as having retired, based on the directors' compensation policy, the company said.
In 1989, he proceeded to snap up competitors, also amazed that the advertisements world with a 825 million takeover of Ogilvy & Mather, then among the ad bureaus, for example Young & Rubicam, a advertising and marketing and communications organization. The company has over 200,000 employees.
Sorrell is one of the UK's best-paid business leaders, earning more than £200m from pay and lucrative - and highly controversial - reward schemes in the past five years alone.
Sir Martin Sorrell is in line for nearly £20m in payouts from WPP over the next five years, as part of the deal struck to leave the advertising group he founded more than three decades ago.
In a statement, he said it was "in the best interests of the business if I step down now".
The world's biggest ad group chose to launch the investigation into its chief executive after a whistleblower made allegations. The biggest budgets have been overhauled, gradually shifting portfolios to include more online advertising.
It largely outperformed its peers Omnicom OMC.N , Publicis PUBP.PA and IPG IPG.N in the years that followed the financial crisis as the group pitched aggressively for new work.
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