Continental Divide Over Executive Pay

It's an elegant setting for what's shaping up to be an ugly brawl. On June 26, shareholders of WPP Group PLC will gather in a marble-lined room overlooking the Thames at London's Savoy hotel. There, they'll vote on a pay package for Chief Executive Martin Sorrell that could give him up to $39 million over five years, depending on the performance of the ad-agency group's stock. It's the smart thing to do, according to Chairman Gordon Stevens: "We intend to make our CEO's package competitive with his rivals' in New York." Yet two big British investors who control about 9% of WPP's shares noisily oppose the plan. They say it's too greedy and just not right.

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