Martin Sorrell stands down as WPP CEO

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WPP PR Companies operating in Australia include Ogilvy PR, Burson Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, PPR, Pulse and several conflict agencies. And late last night - amidst investigations into charges of personal misconduct by the WPP board - Sir Martin Sorrell packed up his things and shockingly announced that he was saying ta-ta to the CEO's position and moving out of the corner office.

"The allegation did not involve amounts that are material", it said.

"That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside".

The company has also named Mark Read, who runs WPP's digital operation Wunderman, and its European chief operating officer Andrew Scott as joint chief operating officers. 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.

The company will consider internal and external candidates for the top job in a process that could take several months. "However, I believe it is in the best interests of the business if I step down now".

A person familiar with the matter says the various mentions of alleged "personal misconduct" and "financial impropriety" in statements by WPP and Sorrell referred to the same thing.

A source close to Sorrell said he had been unhappy with how the investigation was handled, leaving him uncertain whether he could work with the board again.

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In a parting memo to WPP's 200,000 employees obtained by AdAge, Sorrell explained that the firm's "current disruption" has come from "putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business".

Sorrell is one of Britain's best known and highly paid businessmen, pocketing about £230m since 2010.

In Australia the group has a market capitalisation of $780M.

Present in 112 countries, WPP serves clients including Ford, Unilever, P&G and a string of major corporations around the world.

He has made headlines in recent years regarding his sizeable pay at a time when traditional advertising groups struggle against fierce competition from the likes of Google and Facebook. Its shares are down around 30 percent this year.

However, Sorrell will assist with the transition as the company seeks a new leader.

"For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP", wrote Sorrell.