Bell unlikely to see payout cash
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.”