Martin Sorrell
Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Reuters

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the world's biggest advertising company WPP, is expected to receive total pay of more than £40m (€56.1m, $59.1m) in 2015, as he continues to benefit from a controversial stock award plan at the company.

Under the company's Leap incentive plan, Sorrell will receive more than 2.3 million WPP shares worth £36.04m. Including salary and other short-term bonus, his yearly pay package will be more than £40m.

The Leap incentive plan, which is linked to growth in the company's market capitalisation and shareholder returns, had faced severe criticism from investors and the general public. The executive pay plan that ran from 2010 to 2014 had been discontinued in 2012 due to strong opposition from shareholders.

In 2014, Sorrell received a share award worth £22.7m as part of an overall pay package worth £29.8m.

Justifying the bonus, WPP said its market capitalisation has soared by 133% to £17.83bn from 2010-14, outperforming the FTSE 100 by 21%.

"This senior management incentive compensation plan required substantial personal, long-term investment by the participants, exceptional corporate performance over five years, and was approved by an 83% supporting vote of share owners," said WPP chairman Philip Lader.

"The awards were determined by the arithmetic application of this 2009 plan and are aligned with the £12.8bn share owner value creation over this period derived from share price appreciation, dividends and share buybacks."

Sorrell is the highest paid FTSE 100 chief executive, according to figures compiled by the High Pay Centre. He earlier defended his pay, saying he deserves it given the strong performance of the company over the last 30 years.

In 2012, more than 60% of WPP shareholders voted against the increase in his pay for 2011 but just 28% of shareholders voted against or abstained in 2014.