Bell, who has today agreed a deal with Chime Communications to buy a section of its PR businesses for a total sum of £19.6m, explained that his new company will continue to operate under the name Bell Pottinger. The name BPP Communications will act only as the holding company.
‘We’re going to run a private company and our private lives will become private again,’ he said. ‘I’m relishing that opportunity and I’m sure my colleagues are as well.’
Analysts have reacted favourably to the deal this morning, advising to buy Chime shares. Investec said that this was ‘a positive in our view as the ongoing PR distraction can now be put behind us and Chime can refocus on faster growth in sports/marketing’.
Peel Hunt added that £19.6m was ‘a good price for a business that has attracted considerable adverse commentary’.
Bell used these positive comments to make a sideswipe at WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, a shareholder in Chime.
‘All the analysts' notes say that it’s a good price and a good deal for Chime,’ said Bell. ‘Martin Sorrell said that what is good for me is bad for Chime – every analyst is saying the opposite to that.
‘I’ve always said that my purpose is what is good for Chime, its clients and its employees and that is the most important thing – that this transition will be good for clients and good for the company.’
The new company will be made up of Bell Pottinger Public Relations, Pelham Bell Pottinger (60%), Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, Bell Pottinger Sans Frontières and Bell Pottinger Middle East.
In addition, BPP Communications will acquire the 40% stake in Pelham Bell Pottinger held by senior management.
Bell remained tight-lipped on his vision for the new company and whether the five businesses would continue to operate separately or be merged together, saying that more would be revealed after the shareholders’ vote on 18 June.
He also revealed that a proposed name for the holding company was Backgammon, but this was later dismissed as it sounded as if they were calling the new venture ‘a gamble’.