SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
|¨||REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|x||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31 2021
|¨||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|¨||SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
Date of event requiring this shell company report _________
For the transition period from _________ to _________
Commission file number 001-38303
(Exact Name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
Sea Containers, 18 Upper Ground
London, United Kingdom, SE1 9GL
(Address of principal executive offices)
Group Chief Counsel
Sea Containers, 18 Upper Ground, London, United Kingdom, SE1 9GL
Telephone: +44(0) 20 7282 4600
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol (s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
Ordinary Shares of 10p each
|London Stock Exchange|
|American Depositary Shares, each|
representing five Ordinary Shares (ADSs)
|New York Stock Exchange|
(Title of Class)
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
(Title of Class)
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
At December 31, 2021, the number of outstanding ordinary shares was 1,153,969,597 which included at such date 70,902,035 ordinary shares represented by 14,180,407 ADSs.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large Accelerated Filer
|Non-accelerated Filer||o||Emerging Growth Company||¨|
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
†The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP ¨
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board x
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In connection with the provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the ‘Reform Act’), the Company may include forward-looking statements (as defined in the Reform Act) in oral or written public statements issued by or on behalf of the Company. These forward-looking statements may include, among other things, plans, objectives, beliefs, intentions, strategies, projections and anticipated future economic performance based on assumptions and the like that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. They use words such as ‘anticipate’, ‘estimate’, ‘expect’, ‘intend’, ‘will’, ‘project’, ‘plan’, ‘believe’, ‘target’, and other words and similar references to future periods but are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements. As such, all forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to future events and circumstances that are beyond the control of the Company. Actual results or outcomes may differ materially from those discussed or implied in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, you should not rely on such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made, as a prediction of actual results or otherwise. Important factors which may cause actual results to differ include but are not limited to: the impact of outbreaks, epidemics or pandemics, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing challenges and uncertainties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic for businesses and governments around the world; the unanticipated loss of a material client or key personnel; delays or reductions in client advertising budgets; shifts in industry rates of compensation; regulatory compliance costs or litigation; changes in competitive factors in the industries in which we operate and demand for our products and services; our inability to realise the future anticipated benefits of acquisitions; failure to realise our assumptions regarding goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets; natural disasters or acts of terrorism; the Company’s ability to attract new clients; the economic and geopolitical impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; the risk of global economic downturn; technological changes and risks to the security of IT and operational infrastructure, systems, data and information resulting from increased threat of cyber and other attacks; the Company’s exposure to changes in the values of other major currencies (because a substantial portion of its revenues are derived and costs incurred outside of the UK); and the overall level of economic activity in the Company’s major markets (which varies depending on, among other things, regional, national and international political and economic conditions and government regulations in the world’s advertising markets). In addition, you should consider the risks described in Item 3D, captioned “Risk Factors,” which could also cause actual results to differ from forward-looking information. In light of these and other uncertainties, the forward-looking statements included in this document should not be regarded as a representation by the Company that the Company’s plans and objectives will be achieved. Neither the Company, nor any of its directors, officers or employees, provides any representation, assurance or guarantee that the occurrence of any events anticipated, expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements will actually occur. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Unless otherwise specified, content on hyperlinked websites is not incorporated by reference and does not form a part of this Annual Report on Form 20-F.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
WPP plc and its subsidiaries (WPP) is a leading worldwide creative transformation organisation offering national and multinational clients a comprehensive range of communications, experience, commerce and technology services across digital and traditional platforms. At 31 December 2021, the Group, excluding associates, had 109,382 employees. For the year ended 31 December 2021, the Group had revenue of £12,801.1 million and operating profit of £1,229.0 million.
Unless the context otherwise requires, the terms “Company”, “Group” and “Registrant” as used herein shall also mean WPP.
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
The Company is subject to a variety of possible risks that could adversely impact its revenues, results of operations, reputation or financial condition. Some of these risks relate to the industries in which the Company operates while others are more specific to the Company. The table below sets out principal risks the Company has identified that could adversely affect it. See also the discussion of Forward-Looking Statements preceding Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 20-F.
|Principal risk||Potential impact|
|The extent of the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our business will depend on numerous factors that we are not able to accurately predict, including the duration and scope of the pandemic, any existing or new variants, government actions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and the intermediate and long-term impact of the pandemic on our clients’ spending plans.||The Covid-19 pandemic and any new variants and the measures to contain its spread, may have a continuing adverse effect on our business, revenues, results of operations and financial condition and prospects. |
|The failure to successfully complete the strategic plan updated in December 2020 to return the business to sustained growth and simplify our structure.||A failure or delay in implementing or realising the benefits from the transformation plan and/or returning the business to sustained growth may have a material adverse effect on our market share and our business, revenues, results of operations, financial condition or prospects.|
|Principal risk||Potential impact|
|We compete for clients in a highly competitive industry which has been evolving and undergoing structural change. Client loss to competitors or as a consequence of client consolidation, insolvency or a reduction in marketing budgets due to recessionary economic conditions triggered by the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, or a geopolitical change or shift in client spending would have a material adverse effect on our market share, business, revenues, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. |
The competitive landscape in our industry is constantly evolving and the role of more traditional services and operators in our sector is being challenged. Competitors include multinational advertising and marketing communication groups, marketing services companies, database marketing information and measurement and professional services and consultants and consulting internet companies.
Client contracts can generally be terminated on 90 days’ notice or are on an assignment basis and clients put their business up for competitive review from time to time. The ability to attract new clients and to retain or increase the amount of work from existing clients may be impacted if we fail to react quickly enough to changes in the market and to evolve our structure, and by loss of reputation, and may be limited by clients’ policies on conflicts of interest.
There are a range of different impacts on our clients globally as a consequence of the pandemic and the geopolitical and economic consequences of the invasion of Ukraine and imposition of sanctions. In the past, clients have responded to weak economic and financial conditions by reducing or shifting their marketing budgets which are easier to reduce in the short term than their other operating expenses.
|We receive a significant portion of our revenues from a limited number of large clients and the net loss of one or more of these clients could have a material adverse effect on our prospects, business, financial condition and results of operations.|
A relatively small number of clients contribute a significant percentage of our consolidated revenues. Our ten largest clients accounted for 15% of revenues in the year ended 31 December 2021. Clients can reduce their marketing spend, terminate contracts or cancel projects on short notice. The loss of one or more of our largest clients, if not replaced by new accounts or an increase in business from existing clients, would adversely affect our financial condition.
|People, culture and succession|
|Our performance could be adversely affected if we do not react quickly enough to changes in our market and fail to attract, develop and retain key creative, commercial, technology and management talent, or are unable to retain and incentivise key and diverse talent.||We are highly dependent on the talent, creative abilities and technical skills of our people as well as their relationships with clients. We are vulnerable to the loss of people to competitors (traditional and emerging) and clients, leading to disruption to the business.|
|Cyber and information security|
We are undertaking a series of IT transformation programmes to support the Group’s strategic plan and a failure or delay in implementing the IT programmes may have a material adverse effect on its business, revenues, results of operations, financial conditions or prospects. The Group is reliant on third parties for the performance of a significant portion of our worldwide information technology and operations functions. A failure to provide these functions could have an adverse effect on our business. During the transformation, we are still reliant on legacy systems which could restrict our ability to change rapidly.
The Group has in the past and may in the future experience a cyber-attack which results in disruption to one or more of our businesses or the security of data being compromised.
We may be subject to investigative or enforcement action or legal claims or incur fines, damages, or costs and client loss if we fail to adequately protect data. A system breakdown or intrusion could have a material adverse effect on our business, revenues, results of operations, financial condition or prospects and have an impact on long-term reputation and lead to client loss.
The imposition of sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered an increase in cyber-attacks generally.
|Economic and Credit risk|
|Economic conditions have a direct impact on our business, results of operations and financial position. Adverse economic conditions, including those caused by the pandemic, invasion of Ukraine by Russia, severe and sustained inflation in key markets where we operate, supply chain issues affecting the distribution of our clients’ products and/or disruption in credit markets, pose a risk our clients may reduce, suspend or cancel spend with us or be unable to satisfy obligations. We are subject to credit risk through the default of a client or other counterparty.|
We are generally paid in arrears for our services. Invoices are typically payable within 30 to 60 days.
We commit to media and production purchases on behalf of some of our clients as principal or agent depending on the client and market circumstances. If a client is unable to pay sums due, media and production companies may look to us to pay those amounts and there could be an adverse effect on our working capital and operating cash flow.
|Principal risk||Potential impact|
Our performance could be adversely impacted if we failed to ensure adequate internal control procedures are in place.
We have previously identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we failed to properly remediate these material weaknesses or new material weaknesses are identified, they could adversely affect our results of operations, investor confidence in the Group and the market price of our ADSs and ordinary shares.
Failure to ensure that our businesses have robust control environments, or that the services we provide and trading activities within the Group are compliant with client obligations, could adversely impact client relationships and business volumes and revenues.
As disclosed in Item 15, in connection with the Group’s assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of 31 December 2020, we previously identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting with respect to management’s review of the impairment assessment of intangible assets and goodwill (specifically the selection of appropriate discount rates for use in the impairment calculations, the determination of the appropriateness of the cash flow periods and associated discounting and determination of the assumptions in respect of working capital cash flows, in each case used in the impairment calculation); the design and implementation of internal controls to ensure that the complex accounting matters and judgements are assessed against the requirements of IFRS and to reflect changes in the applicable accounting standards and interpretations or changes in the underlying business on a timely basis; and our net investment hedging arrangements (specifically concerning the eligibility of hedging relationships under IFRS, the adequacy and maintenance of contemporaneous documentation of the application of hedge accounting, and the review of the impact of changes in internal financing structures on such hedging relationships). We implemented remedial measures during 2021 and believe that we have remediated each of these material weaknesses such that our internal control over financial reporting is effective as at 31 December 2021.
If the remedial measures were ultimately insufficient to address the material weaknesses, or if additional material weaknesses in internal control are discovered or occur in the future, our ability to accurately record, process and report financial information and, consequently, our ability to prepare financial statements within required time periods, could be adversely affected. In addition, the Group may be unable to maintain compliance with the federal securities laws and NYSE listing requirements regarding the timely filing of periodic reports. Any of the foregoing could cause investors to lose confidence in the reliability of our financial reporting, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of the Group’s ADSs and ordinary shares.
We are subject to strict data protection and privacy legislation in the jurisdictions in which we operate and rely extensively on information technology systems. We store, transmit and rely on critical and sensitive data such as strategic plans, personally identifiable information and trade secrets:
- Security of this type of data is exposed to escalating external threats that are increasing in sophistication, as well as internal data breaches
- Data transfers between our global operating companies, clients or vendors may be interrupted due to changes in law (eg EU adequacy decisions, CJEU Schrems II decision)
We may be subject to investigative or enforcement action or legal claims or incur fines, damages, or costs and client loss if we fail to adequately protect data or observe privacy legislation in every instance:
- The Group has in the past and may in the future experience a system breakdown or intrusion that could have a material adverse effect on our business, revenues, results of operations, financial condition or prospects
- Restrictions or limitations on international data transfers could have an adverse effect on our business and operations
|We may be subject to regulations restricting our activities or effecting changes in taxation.||Changes in local or international tax rules, for example as a consequence of the financial support programmes implemented by governments during the Covid-19 pandemic, the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, and changes arising from the application of existing rules, or challenges by tax or competition authorities, may expose us to significant additional tax liabilities or impact the carrying value of our deferred tax assets, which would affect the future tax charge.|
|We are subject to strict anti-corruption, anti-bribery and anti-trust legislation and enforcement in the countries in which we operate.||We operate in a number of markets where the corruption risk has been identified as high by groups such as Transparency International. Failure to comply or to create a culture opposed to corruption or failing to instil business practices that prevent corruption has previously and could expose us to civil and criminal sanctions.|
|Principal risk||Potential impact|
|We are subject to the laws of the United States, the EU, the UK and other jurisdictions that impose sanctions and regulate the supply of services to certain countries.|
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused the adoption of comprehensive sanctions by, among others, the EU, the United States and the UK, which restrict a wide range of trade and financial dealings with Russia and Russian persons.
|Failure to comply with these laws could expose us to civil and criminal penalties including fines and the imposition of economic sanctions against us and reputational damage and withdrawal of banking facilities which could materially impact our results.|
|Civil liabilities or judgements against the Company or its directors or officers based on United States federal or state securities laws may not be enforceable in the United States or in England and Wales or in Jersey.||The Company is a public limited company incorporated under the laws of Jersey. Some of the Company’s directors and officers reside outside of the United States. In addition, a substantial portion of the directly owned assets of the Company are located outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for investors to effect service of process within the United States against the Company or its directors and officers or to enforce against them any of the judgements, including those obtained in original actions or in actions to enforce judgements of the United States courts, predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the federal or state securities laws of the United States.|
|Increased frequency of extreme weather and climate-related natural disasters.||This includes storms, flooding, wildfires and water and heat stress which can damage our buildings, jeopardise the safety of our people and significantly disrupt our operations. At present 10% of our headcount is located in countries at “extreme” risk from the physical impacts of climate change in the next 30 years.|
|Increased reputational risk associated with working on client briefs perceived to be environmentally detrimental and/or misrepresenting environmental claims.||As consumer consciousness around climate change rises, our sector is seeing increased scrutiny of its role in driving unsustainable consumption. Our clients seek expert partners who can give recommendations that take into account stakeholder concerns around climate change.|
Additionally, WPP serves some clients whose business models are under increased scrutiny, for example energy companies or associated industry groups who are not actively decarbonising. This creates both a reputational and related financial risk for WPP if we are not rigorous in our content standards as we grow our sustainability-related services.
|Changes in regulation and reporting standards.||We could be subject to increased costs to comply with potential future changes in environmental laws and regulations and increasing carbon offset pricing to meet its net zero commitments.|
Carbon emission accounting for marketing and media is in its infancy and methodologies
continue to evolve. This is particularly the case for emissions associated with digital media.
ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
WPP is a leading worldwide creative transformation company offering national and multinational clients a comprehensive range of communications, experience, commerce and technology services. The Company provides these services through a number of established global, multinational and national operating companies that are organised into three reportable segments. The largest reportable segment is Global Integrated Agencies, which accounted for approximately 85% of the Company’s revenues in 2021. The remaining 15% of our revenues were derived from the reportable segments of Public Relations and Specialist Agencies. Excluding associates, the Company currently employs approximately 109,000 people in 112 countries.
The Company’s ordinary shares are admitted to the Official List of the UK Listing Authority and trade on the London Stock Exchange and American Depositary Shares (which are evidenced by American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) or held in book-entry form) representing deposited ordinary shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). At 31 December 2021 the Company had a market capitalisation of approximately £12.919 billion.
The Company’s executive office is located at Sea Containers, 18 Upper Ground, London, United Kingdom, SE1 9GL, Tel: +44 (0)20 7282 4600 and its registered office is located at 13 Castle Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE1 1ES.
A. History and Development of the Company
WPP plc was incorporated in Jersey on 25 October 2012 under the name WPP 2012 plc.
On 2 January 2013, under a scheme of arrangement between WPP 2012 Limited (formerly known as WPP plc), (Old WPP), the former holding company of the Group, and its share owners pursuant to Article 125 of the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991, and as sanctioned by the Royal Court of Jersey (the Jersey Court), a Jersey incorporated and United Kingdom tax resident company, WPP 2012 plc became the new parent company of the WPP Group and adopted the name WPP plc. Under the scheme of arrangement, all the issued shares in Old WPP were cancelled and the same number of new shares were issued to WPP plc in consideration for the allotment to share owners of one share in WPP plc for each share in Old WPP held on the record date, 31 December 2012. Citibank, N.A., depositary for the ADSs representing Old WPP shares, cancelled Old WPP ADSs held in
book-entry uncertificated form in the direct registration system maintained by it and issued ADSs representing shares of WPP plc in book entry uncertificated form in the direct registration system maintained by it to the holders. Holders of certificated ADSs, or ADRs, of Old WPP were entitled to receive ADSs of WPP plc upon surrender of the Old WPP ADSs, or ADRs, to the Depositary. Each Old WPP ADS represented five shares of Old WPP and each WPP plc ADS represents five shares of WPP plc.
Pursuant to Rule 12g-3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act), WPP plc succeeded to Old WPP’s registration and periodic reporting obligations under the Exchange Act.
Old WPP was incorporated in Jersey on 12 September 2008 and became the holding company of the WPP Group on 19 November 2008 when the company now known as WPP 2008 Limited, the prior holding company of the WPP Group which was incorporated in England and Wales, completed a reorganisation of its capital and corporate structure. WPP 2008 Limited had become the holding company of the Group on 25 October 2005 when the company now known as WPP 2005 Limited, the original holding company of the WPP Group, completed a reorganisation of its capital and corporate structure. WPP 2005 Limited was incorporated and registered in England and Wales in 1971 and is a private limited company under the Companies Act 1985, and until 1985 operated as a manufacturer and distributor of wire and plastic products. In 1985, new investors acquired a significant interest in WPP and changed the strategic direction of the Company from being a wire and plastic products manufacturer and distributor to being a multinational communications services organisation. Since then, the Company has grown both organically and by the acquisition of companies, most significantly the acquisitions of J. Walter Thompson Group, Inc. (now known as Wunderman Thompson LLC) in 1987, The Ogilvy Group, Inc. (now known as The Ogilvy Group LLC) in 1989, Young & Rubicam Inc. (now known as Young & Rubicam LLC) in 2000, Tempus Group plc (Tempus) in 2001, Cordiant Communications Group plc (Cordiant) in 2003, Grey Global Group, LLC (Grey) in 2005, 24/7 Real Media Inc (now known as Xaxis LLC) in 2007, Taylor Nelson Sofres plc (TNS) in 2008, AKQA Holdings, Inc. (AKQA) in 2012, IBOPE Participações Ltda (IBOPE) in 2015, Triad Digital Media, LLC and the merger of most of the Group’s Australian and New Zealand assets with STW Communications Group Limited in Australia (re-named WPP AUNZ Limited) in 2016. During 2018, the Company focused on simplifying its organisation with the completion of the merger of VML and Y&R to create VMLY&R as well as the merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW). The merger of Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson to create Wunderman Thompson began at the end of 2018 and was finalized in 2019. In December 2019, the Company sold 60% of the Kantar group to Bain Capital Private Equity. In May 2021 WPP completed the acquisition of the remaining shares in WPP AUNZ Limited (WPP AUNZ) by way of a scheme of arrangement. During 2020, the Group announced the intention to combine Grey and AKQA into AKQA Group, and to bring Geometry and GTB into VMLY&R, and International Healthcare into VMLY&R and Ogilvy. As a result, AKQA, Geometry, GTB and International Healthcare are now reported within Global Integrated Agencies, having previously been reported within Specialist Agencies.
The Company paid £453.3 million in 2021 and received £13.3 million and £1,917.0 million related to acquisitions and disposals in 2020 and 2019, respectively, including proceeds on disposal of investments and subsidiaries, payments in respect of earnout payments resulting from acquisitions in prior years and net of cash and cash equivalents disposed. For the same periods, cash spent on purchases of property, plant and equipment and other intangible assets was £293.1 million, £272.7 million and £394.1 million, respectively, and cash spent on share repurchases and buybacks was £818.5 million, £290.2 million and £43.8 million, respectively.
The Company is subject to the informational requirements of the Exchange Act. In accordance with these requirements, the Company files reports and other information with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. You may read and copy any materials filed with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy statements and other information regarding registrants that file electronically with the SEC. The Company’s Form 20-F is also available on the Company’s website, http://www.wpp.com.
B. Business Overview
Certain Non-GAAP measures included in this business overview and in the operating and financial review and prospects have been derived from amounts calculated in accordance with IFRS but are not themselves IFRS measures. They should not be viewed in isolation as alternatives to the equivalent IFRS measure, rather they should be read in conjunction with the equivalent IFRS measure. These include constant currency, pro-forma (‘like-for-like’), headline operating profit, headline PBIT (Profit Before Interest and Taxation), headline PBT (Profit Before Taxation), billings and estimated net new business/billings, free cash flow and adjusted net debt and average adjusted net debt, which we define, explain the use of and reconcile to the nearest IFRS measure on pages 22 to 25.
Management believes that these measures are both useful and necessary to present herein because they are used by management for internal performance analyses; the presentation of these measures facilitates comparability with other companies, although
management’s measures may not be calculated in the same way as similarly titled measures reported by other companies; and these measures are useful in connection with discussions with the investment community.
In the calculation of headline profit, judgement is required by management in determining which revenues and costs are considered to be significant, non-recurring or volatile items that are to be excluded.
The exclusion of certain adjusting items may result in headline profit measures being materially higher or lower than reported profit measures, for example when significant impairments or restructuring charges are excluded but the related benefits are included, headline profit measures will be higher. Headline measures should not be considered in isolation as they provide additional information to aid the understanding of the Group’s financial performance.
The Company is a leading worldwide creative transformation organisation offering national and multinational clients a comprehensive range of communications, experience, commerce and technology services.
A key element of our strategy is to align our technology capabilities more closely with our creative expertise, and to simplify WPP through the creation of fewer, stronger, integrated agencies. During 2021, we achieved many significant wins in pitches, from media, creative and PR to design, technology and production, culminating in WPP’s appointment as The Coca-Cola Company’s Global Marketing Network Partner. Other major cross-agency wins included AstraZeneca, Beiersdorf, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s, TD Bank and Under Armour. Overall, on new business in 2021, we ranked as number one for both creative and media wins according to R3, with a total of $8.7 billion of net new business won.
Global Integrated Agencies
The principal functions of integrated agencies are the planning and creation of marketing and branding campaigns, design and production of advertisements across all media, and media buying services including strategy & business development, media investment, data & technology and content. In 2021, WPP’s integrated agency networks included Ogilvy, VMLY&R, Wunderman Thompson, AKQA Group, GroupM, and Hogarth.
WPP’s public relations companies advise clients who are seeking to communicate with a range of stakeholders from consumers to governments and the business and financial communities. Our public affairs companies include Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), Finsbury Glover Hering & Sard Verbinnen & Co, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. The majority of their work takes place in the United States, the UK and the EU, although many clients are multinational businesses operating in many countries.
Our specialist agencies provide services by region or type. In 2021, they included the brand consultancies Landor & Fitch, Superunion, and the specialist healthcare media business CMI.
During 2020, we announced that we would bring together Grey and AKQA under the AKQA Group, and we brought Geometry and GTB into VMLY&R, and International Healthcare into VMLY&R and Ogilvy. As a result AKQA Group, Geometry, GTB and International Healthcare are now reported within Global Integrated Agencies, having previously been reported within Specialist Agencies. Prior year figures have been re-presented to reflect these changes.
The following tables show, for the last three fiscal years, reported revenue and revenue less pass-through costs from continuing operations attributable to each reportable segment in which the Company operates.
|Global Integrated Agencies||10,836.3 ||84.7 ||10,265.5 ||85.6 ||11,269.2 ||85.2 |
|Public Relations||959.0 ||7.4 ||892.9 ||7.4 ||956.5 ||7.2 |
|Specialist Agencies||1,005.8 ||7.9 ||844.4 ||7.0 ||1,008.4 ||7.6 |
|Total||12,801.1 ||100.0 ||12,002.8 ||100.0 ||13,234.1 ||100.0 |
1Intersegment sales have not been separately disclosed as they are not material.
Revenue less pass-through costs1