Boardroom doyen Quarta appointed chairman at WPP alongside chief executive SorrellComments Off on Boardroom doyen Quarta appointed chairman at WPP alongside chief executive Sorrell
City veteran Roberto Quarta, the son of a tailor from northern Italy, was reputedly known as “Bob the Knife” during his earlier days running engineering group BTR.
Quarta has little experience of advertising — like departing WPP chairman Philip Lader, the former US ambassador to London — but plenty of boardroom know-how.
He is already chairman of FTSE 100 global medical technology company Smith & Nephew and today resigned from another chairmanship — of FTSE 250 engineering business IMI — to make time for his new role at WPP.
Sorrell is the longest-serving chief executive of a FTSE 100 company after taking the helm in 1986 and will turn 70 in February.
He has defied repeated shareholder revolts over his pay, which hit £30 million last year as long-term bonuses paid off, but WPP has carried out a major reshuffle of its board in the last two years.
According to a Management Today profile of Quarta, “he can, like many Italian men, give you a curious top-to-toe glance which can suddenly make your suit seem surprisingly ill-fitting”.
Lader earned £450,000 last year at WPP.
Insiders said Quarta, who has joint Italian and US nationalities and a reputation for turning around businesses, should command Sorrell’s respect.
WPP faced a battle to recruit a chairman in a year-long search. BT’s Sir Mike Rake was reportedly sounded out but withdrew from the race.