WPP Names Roberto Quarta Chairman Starting in 2015

Role Includes Remuneration Negotiations and Succession Planning

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Roberto Quarta
Roberto Quarta

WPP has named Roberto Quarta, an industrialist and private equity executive, as its new chairman, after a seven-month search to fill the parttime role.

Based in the U.K., Mr. Quarta, 65, will replace Philip Lader, WPP's chairman since 2001. Mr. Quarta will join the WPP board as chairman designate on Jan. 1, 2015, and take over from Mr. Lader -- a former U.S. ambassador to the U.K. -- at the company's annual meeting in June.

As well as being chairman of the world's largest communications group, Mr. Quarta will also serve as a member of the nomination and governance committee, which is in charge of succession planning. This could be an important role as WPP's CEO Martin Sorrell turns 70 in February 2015.

Mr. Sorrell said in a statement, "Following an exhaustive search, the board has chosen Roberto to be its next chairman, as his experience and background complement and will help develop WPP's strategy in new markets, in new media, in data investment management and the application of technology and, last but not least, horizontality."

Mr. Quarta, like his predecessor, will also join the compensation committee, which has come under fire in recent years over directors' pay packages. Mr. Lader had been in charge of negotiating with shareholders to secure support for controversial remuneration deals, especially Mr. Sorrell's own generous compensation, but left that committee in December 2013.

Mr. Quarta, who grew up in the U.S. and Italy, has several other parttime roles. He has agreed to step down from his current role as chairman of engineering group IMI. However, he will remain chairman of medical devices manufacturer Smith & Nephew, and as European chairman of U.S. private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

Mr. Quarta said in a statement, "I look forward to working with the board to help the company as it continues to build leadership positions in the fast changing media markets."

WPP's agency brands include Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, Y&R, Ogilvy, AKQA, Hill & Knowlton and media networks Mindshare, MEC and Mediacom.

Mr. Lader announced his intention to quit in April. In the U.K., chairmen are expected to step down after a certain length of time so that the role can be seen to remain independent. He said in a statement, "Roberto brings to WPP extensive, diverse experience in corporate governance and global commerce. This completes our refreshment of the board, which over the last three years has seen the appointment of 10 internationally-recognized business leaders from four continents and the phased retirement of long-serving directors."

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