Bell un­likely to see pay­out cash

The Guardian - - FINANCIAL - Mark Sweney

The co-founder of Bell Pot­tinger has emerged as one of the cred­i­tors the firm’s ad­min­is­tra­tors are un­likely to be able to pay back, with a £300,000 bill out­stand­ing from Lord Bell’s mul­ti­mil­lion-pound deal to leave the dis­graced PR firm last year.

BDO put Bell Pot­tinger into ad­min­is­tra­tion Tues­day in the wake of the scan­dal over its cam­paign to stir up racial ten­sions in South Africa, which re­sulted in the com­pany be­ing ex­pelled from the UK PR in­dus­try’s trade body and the res­ig­na­tion of its chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Bell left the agency last sum­mer in a deal thought to be worth as much as £2.5m that in­cluded the com­pany buy­ing his stake. Bell’s exit deal in­volved a se­ries of staged pay­outs, and has left him owed hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds.

“They owe me £300,000, which they won’t [be able] to pay,” he said. “The pay­ments paid to me are spread over a long pe­riod of time and in­clude [one due in] the next four months. I won’t see it.”

The ma­jor­ity of the firm’s 250 staff were made re­dun­dant and al­most cer­tainly will not re­ceive pay owed to them. Bell, who has set up his own PR firm deal­ing with the sen­si­tive geopo­lit­i­cal clients with which he made his name, said he was not in­ter­ested in speak­ing to ad­min­is­tra­tors about sal­vaging any part of the firm he set up in 1987.

“I am not mak­ing any move for the com­pany at all,” he said. “I think the name should go. [Co-founder] Piers [Pot­tinger] is buy­ing out the Asian busi­ness un­der a new name, so the Pot­tinger part is dis­ap­pear­ing. So Bell will dis­ap­pear too.”

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