Bell Pottinger explores sale options after South Africa scandal

British PR agency Bell Pottinger said on Wednesday it had hired accountancy firm BDO to advise on a possible sale after it lost business for running a racially-charged campaign in South Africa, leaving its future increasingly uncertain.

An office building containing the London headquarters of the PR company Bell Pottinger is seen behind an entrance to an underground train station in London, September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
An office building containing the London headquarters of the PR company Bell Pottinger is seen behind an entrance to an underground train station in London, September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Banking giant HSBC cut ties with Bell Pottinger and the PR agency’s second-biggest shareholder walked away on Tuesday after it was thrown out of an industry body for running a campaign that the political opposition said had inflamed racial tensions.

“I can confirm that we have appointed BDO to look at all options for the business including a possible sale,” a spokesman for Bell Pottinger said in an e-mail.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, had complained to the Public Relations and Communications Association that Bell Pottinger’s campaign was trying to “divide and conquer” the South African public in order to keep President Jacob Zuma and his party in power.

The PRCA expelled Bell Pottinger for a minimum of five years. 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.

Reuters