UK

Bell Pottinger Falls Into Administration After 'Racially Divisive' South Africa Campaign

PR firm calls in administrators BDO.

12/09/2017 18:00 BST | Updated 12/09/2017 18:15 BST

Disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger is on the brink of collapse after falling into administration amid the controversy over its racially-charged campaign in South Africa.

Administrators BDO have been called in to effectively run the company and attempt to save it after failing to find a buyer, and had already made redundancies.

The PR firm’s work on a campaign for Oakbay Capital, a South African company owned by the wealthy Gupta family, was accused of stoking racial hatred by the country’s opposition, Democratic Alliance.

The firm was accused of provocation over using the phrases “white monopoly capital” and “economic apartheid” on social media.

Soon after, it was expelled from the UK’s leading PR trade body for its controversial contract, the first time such a prominent member had been kicked out off the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

According to City AM, a BDO spokesman said:

“Following an immediate assessment of the financial position, the administrators have made a number of redundancies.

“The administrators are now working with the remaining partners and employees to seek an orderly transfer of Bell Pottinger’s clients to other firms in order to protect and realise value for creditors.

“We have taken appropriate steps to preserve the rights Bell Pottinger may have in relation to the failure of the business.”

Founded in 1987, Bell Pottinger became one of the UK’s most successful PR company’s and was driven by Tim Bell, later Lord Bell, who helped propel Margaret Thatcher to Downing Street.

Lord Bell quit in August, citing his concern with the Oakbay Capital contract, and two week’s ago gave an extraordinary interview arguing he could not be blamed for the association - despite claims to the contrary.

Chief executive James Henderson resigned before an independent report that found the the campaign in South Africa “was potentially racially divisive and/or potentially offensive and was created in breach of relevant ethical principles”.