PR firm for sale after race row
PR firm Bell Pottinger has put itself up for sale after being expelled from the UK’s public-relations industry body and losing clients over a racially divisive social-media campaign in South Africa.
The London-based firm, founded by Margaret Thatcher’s media consultant, has hired financial adviser BDO “to look at all options regarding the future of the business,” it said in a statement.
Finding a buyer may present a challenge to Bell Pottinger as existing investors distance themselves amid controversy over its work for the Gupta family in South Africa. Chime Communications two weeks ago returned its 27pc stake in the business without compensation, a person familiar with the matter said. Clients including HSBC and construction firm Carillion are among those to stop working with Bell Pottinger, and at least one partner has left, another person said.
Co-founder Timothy Bell told BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ programme that the agency is unlikely to survive. “It’s probably nearing the end,” said Bell, who formed the firm in the 1980s and left last year. “You can try and rescue it but it won’t be very successful.”
Bell Pottinger employs more than 240 people in offices in locations including Bahrain, Kuala Lumpur and Yangon, Myanmar. They serve clients ranging from multinational businesses to governments and high-profile individuals, according to its website.
The company had £33.3m (€27m)) in revenue in 2015, and net income of £3.3m, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. (Bloomberg)
An office building containing the London HQ of Bell Pottinger