PR firm Bell Pottinger ‘nearing collapse’

PR firm Bell Pottinger ‘nearing collapse’

  • 7 September 2017
  • From the section Business

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Bell Pottinger’s troubles began with a controversial South African campaign

Staff at embattled public relations firm Bell Pottinger have been told it could go into administration next week, media reports say.

The PR firm has lost clients since being expelled from the industry trade body after being accused of stirring up racial hatred in South Africa.

The announcement came at a meeting at the company’s London headquarters, the reports say.

Bell Pottinger was unavailable for comment.

According to the reports, the meeting was attended by a representative of accountants BDO, hired to advise on a potential sale.

However, BDO did not respond to a BBC request for a comment.

The company’s founder, Lord Bell, who resigned last year, has admitted to the BBC that it is probably “near the end”.

Risk-takers

A string of big names have already cut ties with the firm since it was expelled from the Public Relations and Communications Association earlier this week.

The company’s work on the campaign for Oakbay Capital, a South African company owned by the wealthy Gupta family, was accused of inciting racial hatred.

Bell Pottinger and its founder, Lord Bell, have a reputation in the PR industry for taking risks.

The firm represented the South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorious after he was charged with murder.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has used the firm’s services, as well as Syria’s first lady Asma al-Assad.

In the late 1990s the PR firm worked on a campaign to release the former Chilean dictator, General Pinochet, who had been arrested in London on a warrant from Spain requesting his extradition on murder charges.

Lord Bell, who founded Bell Pottinger in the 1990s, resigned last year, partly due to his unease with the company’s deal with the Guptas.

When asked on BBC2’s Newsnight this week if he thought the PR company would survive the scandal, he replied: “I think it is probably getting near the end.”

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