Britain's Bell Pottinger explores sale options after SA scandals

Britain's Bell Pottinger explores sale options after SA scandals

He said in a statement: "Although I neither initiated nor was involved in the Oakbay work, I accept that as CEO, I have ultimate executive responsibility for Bell Pottinger".

Chime, co-owned by United States investment firm Providence Equity Partners and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP group, gave up trying to sell its 27 per cent holding and is understood to have given the stake to the company's board several weeks ago as the scandal reached boiling point.

Temasek corporate communications chief Stephen Forshaw also confirmed that his company was no longer a client of Bell Pottinger's, as the industry rapidly moves to distance itself from the firm.

Cie Financiere Richemont, the luxury-goods company controlled by Johann Rupert, South Africa's richest man, ended a contract with Bell Pottinger previous year.

Earlier this week, co-founder Timothy Bell, who left the firm a year ago, told BBC's Newsnight programme that he thought the agency is unlikely to survive.

The PRCA launched an investigation into Bell Pottinger following a complaint from South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

"I think that it is probably getting near the end, I mean you can try and rescue it but it won't be very successful", he said.

Bell Pottinger didn't respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the client defections or Chime's stake, which was reported earlier by The Guardian. The PR firm, founded in 1987, said it accepted there were lessons to be learned, but disputed the basis on which the ruling was made.

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Bell Pottinger was being paid £100,000 a month by Oakbay.

Bell Pottinger worked with the president's son and the influential Gupta family on the campaign.

The Public Relations and Communications Association found Bell Pottinger guilty of four breaches of its ethical code after it created a campaign on behalf of the Guptas that targeted wealthy white South African individuals and corporates.

What makes this outcome more rewarding is that this woeful outcome for Bell Pottinger has been wrought without the need for society to introduce expensive litigation action for the transgressor to suffer the consequences of its unwarranted conduct.

Chime, co-owned by United States investment firm Providence Equity Partners and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP group, has given up trying to sell its 27 per cent holding after it was revealed the company had orchestrated a campaign to whip up anger about "white monopoly capital" and "economic apartheid" for South Africa's wealthy and controversial Gupta family.

The agency has attracted attention in the past for taking on controversial clients like former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's foundation.

Bell Pottinger declined to comment.

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