Profile: John Antcliffe, Smithfield Financial - Unleashing the political animal/John Antcliffe seeks a prime cut of the financial market with Smithfield

John Antcliffe will not be at the Fleet Street offices of Bell Pottinger Financial for much longer. Next month he moves across the City to Cowcross Street to set up another agency in the Chime Communications network called Smithfield Financial.

John Antcliffe will not be at the Fleet Street offices of Bell

Pottinger Financial for much longer. Next month he moves across the City

to Cowcross Street to set up another agency in the Chime Communications

network called Smithfield Financial.



But for now he is having to juggle his Bell Pottinger client handling

with the arrangements for setting up Smithfield. The day before we meet

he handled the Bank of Ireland’s results and was also right in the

middle of recruiting for the new venture.



But after two years at Bell Pottinger he is relishing the challenge of

setting up Smithfield. The new agency will specialise in offering

financial PR and IR advice to companies across Europe and will seek to

challenge the likes of Dewe Rogerson in cross-border mergers and

flotation work.



It will also have a UK focus though and will start off with clients

including Stagecoach and Scottish and Newcastle.



Antcliffe is clearly a sharp operator but says that the values of

caution and solid preparation inform his client handling. However, his

career has also been colourful. During his time as a corporate financier

at Rothschild’s he worked on the planning and advertising team which

dreamed up British Gas’ ’Sid’ campaign for its privatisation. His

communications skills became apparent on such projects and he became

corporate affairs director Rothschild’s in 1991.



Antcliffe helps the Royal Albert Hall on a voluntary basis, an activity

he began while at Rothschild’s, when the merchant bank used to block

book seats at the venue. He sits on both the Albert Hall’s advisory

council and sales and marketing committee.



Throughout the 1980s he devoted most of his spare time to pursuing a

political career. He joined the Conservative Party at the age of 15 and

was elected as a councillor on Greenwich Borough Council in 1985. His

attempts to go one better as an MP failed though, when he was twice

beaten to the seat by Rosie Barnes in a by-election and subsequent

general election in the Greenwich constituency.



Those close to him think he would have made a good MP due to his speed

at coming to grips with various issues and sectors and his communication

skills. But it is something that Antcliffe confirms will now never

happen.



He still helps out at a grassroots level in Greenwich, where he was

born, and offers occasional advice at higher levels in the Party. He

knows both William Hague and Francis Maude well. Peter Oborne, political

correspondent on the Express on Sunday, knows Antcliffe well: ’He is one

of the best two or three PR operators in London. He is highly

intelligent, has a knowledge of his field and what makes him unique is

that while he has an understanding of the City and political world he

has a much better eye for a story than most journalists.’



It seems that Lord Bell, chairman of Chime Communications, has ensured

that he has the right balance of skills at the helm of Smithfield.

Antcliffe will work alongside fellow Bell Pottinger director John Kiely,

who will become managing director of Smithfield. Bell says: ’John

Antcliffe is a terrifically reliable and self-confident operator. Both

he and John Kiely have reached a stage where they have to try some of

their own ideas.’



Others agree that Antcliffe and Kiely will work well as a team. Oborne

says: ’Kiely is solid, fun to be with and trustworthy. Antcliffe has

strategic brilliance and sees the big picture in a way few people

can.’



And, as he proved in politics, Antcliffe has dedication. He likens his

support for the Conservatives to that of a football team. During the

1980s he would travel halfway across the country to knock on doors

during local elections.



Smithfield’s team is ambitious and Antcliffe hopes to be running a

20-strong agency within a year. And why not, if he feels as passionate

about the new business as he does about politics.



HIGHLIGHTS

1982

Corporate finance executive, NM Rothschild and Son

1991

Corporate affairs director, NM Rothschild and Son

1994

Director, Dewe Rogerson

1996

Director, Bell Pottinger Financial

1998

Chairman, Smithfield Financial



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