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WPP Four-Month Sales Rise 6.7% on Asia, Latin America

WPP Plc, the world’s largest advertising company, reported a 6.7 percent increase in revenue for the first four months of this year on sales in Asia and Latin America, as well as stronger U.K. demand.

Revenue rose to about 3.45 billion pounds ($5.4 billion) and operating profit, as a percentage of sales, exceeded WPP’s estimate and increased from a year earlier, the London-based company said today in a statement. Separately, shareholders at the company’s annual meeting approved Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell’s 2012 pay package worth 17.6 million pounds.

WPP, which owns ad agencies including Young & Rubicam and Grey, said revenue growth this year was similar to the final quarter of 2012, with some improvement in April. The company has been expanding in faster-growing markets such as China and Brazil to counter slower growth in Europe and North America.

WPP said it expects revenue for the rest of 2013 to surpass its forecast, with full-year like-for-like sales increasing more than 3 percent. The company said it’s still hiring “cautiously” and headcount at the end of April was lower than at the start of this year on a like-for-like basis.

The shares rose 0.7 percent to 1,110 pence at 3:03 p.m. in London trading.

Incentive Plan

Shareholders voted 81 percent in favor of Sorrell’s 2012 pay package today in London. This included a 150,000-pound reduction in Sorrell’s annual salary to 1.15 million pounds. Shareholders also approved a new long-term incentive plan that will cut the maximum value of shares Sorrell could be awarded over a five-year period to 11.2 million pounds from 22.75 million pounds.

Sorrell was a focus of last year’s so-called shareholder spring when there was a vote of about 60 percent against his 11.6 million-pound pay package, which included long-term incentives.

Before today’s meeting, two pension fund groups urged shareholders to oppose Sorrell’s pay and the incentive plan. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum said that while it welcomed WPP’s efforts to cut remuneration, Sorrell’s payout was excessive. Its sister advisory body, PIRC, also urged shareholders to vote against 2012’s pay and the new incentive plan.

Sorrell’s compensation and the long-term incentive plan “were framed against our attempts to strike a balance between what we thought was fair and appropriate,” Jeffrey Rosen, a non-executive director at WPP who chairs the remuneration committee, told today’s meeting.

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