WPP chiefs buy £1m of shares despite jitters over second Covid-19 wave

Read: spent £482,000 to buy 85,000 shares
Read: spent £482,000 to buy 85,000 shares

Stock price underwent a temporary bounce.

WPP’s Mark Read, the chief executive, and John Rogers, the chief financial officer, have spent almost £1m on buying shares in the agency group after the stock hit a four-month low this week.

Shares in WPP underwent a temporary bounce, rising about 2% to 580p, after the company disclosed that Read had spent £482,000 to buy 85,000 shares and Rogers paid £441,000 to acquire 75,000 shares a day later.

WPP stock sank as low as 560p on Monday (18 September) – its lowest level since May – on fears that a second wave of coronavirus infections could harm the global economic recovery.

WPP’s shares started the year above £10 but fell as low as 483p during the worst of lockdown in early April.

The decision to buy shares by Read, chief executive since September 2018, and Rogers, who joined earlier this year, will be seen as a positive sign, given the tough times facing the agency sector.

Prior to this, Read had not bought shares since the week he became CEO.

Senior executives at WPP agreed temporary salary reductions for three months between April and June as revenues less pass-through costs plunged 15.1%. 

The world’s biggest agency group by staff numbers also reduced headcount by 5,000 to about 100,000 by the end of June.

Since then, WPP said its revenue decline eased to 9.2% in July.

Publicis Groupe recently ended its salary reductions in the UK after five months.

It is understood that other groups, including Omnicom and Interpublic, have yet to make a decision on ending salary reductions at the holding company level.

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