London — WPP lost a fifth of its market value after downturns at its New York and London creative agencies forced it to cut sales and profit forecasts, showing the scale of the task facing its new boss after founder Martin Sorrell’s acrimonious exit. Mark Read, a softly spoken veteran of the world’s biggest advertising group, said WPP needed to sell assets, hold off acquisitions and bring in new talent at its storied agencies such as JWT, Ogilvy and Y&R, in order to recover. WPP’s third-quarter downturn, which wiped £2.8bn off its market value, was all the more startling as it came after decent updates from peers Omnicom, IPG and Publicis. The results indicated that the high-margin and previously strong media units that buy ad space and plan campaigns were also struggling. “We need to have stronger creative agencies,” Read said. “We do have good people, we need more of them. This isn’t going to happen overnight. We need to be realistic about the speed at which the business is going ...

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