Bell Pottinger's Asian and Middle Eastern units break with parent
Administration looms for the British PR firm, expelled from an industry body and deserted by clients, shareholders, and now its overseas units
The Asian and Middle Eastern units of Bell Pottinger‚ the UK public relations (PR) firm on the ropes over its controversial handling of the Gupta family account‚ are breaking off to form new companies.
The PR firm has been expelled from the UK's Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), following a complaint from the DA.
The party is still waiting for Britain’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) to respond to the complaint it laid in July against the PR company.
The Financial Times reported on Friday that Bell Pottinger’s Asia unit would separate from the parent company to form Klareco Communications.
The Middle Eastern unit soon followed suit, but said it had not yet settled on a name for the new unit.
The PR firm is losing clients after running its racially divisive campaign in SA for the Guptas.
The PRCA expelled Bell Pottinger for a minimum of five years.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme said the backlash against Bell Pottinger is what should have happened to the Gupta family.
"It’s an example how these things should be dealt with in SA‚" Van Damme said. "Here government is silent. Gupta companies are doing relatively okay." She could not comment on the complaint at the CIPR.
The CIPR says on its website that all parties involved in a complaint must "maintain confidentiality throughout".
"The CIPR will not confirm or deny the existence of a complaint and will not comment on any disciplinary matter until a final adjudication has been made — and only then in certain circumstances."
It said on Tuesday that the PR company had never been a member of the institute. Only three Bell Pottinger employees are CIPR members.
CIPR deputy CEO Phil Morgan said complaints were handled by an independent party to avoid a conflict of interest‚ adding that "we don’t know how long [it] will take."
Bell Pottinger said on Wednesday it had hired accountancy firm BDO to advise it on a possible sale.
The Financial Times reported on Thursday that Bell Pottinger might go into administration within the next week after failing to find a buyer.