LONDON: Hollinger International has hired Bell Pottinger Communications, a London-based crisis and public affairs firm, in an attempt to calm fevered media speculation over the future of London's Telegraph Group.
Hollinger, which is being advised by investment bank Lazard on the possible breakup of its operations, brought in Bell Pottinger founders Lord Bell and Piers Pottinger as the need for UK PR advice became apparent, according to sources.
Meanwhile, New York-based crisis firm Kekst & Co. has been handling PR for Hollinger in the US, while its embattled former CEO Conrad Black has hired Robinson Lerer & Montgomery as his personal PR adviser, according to sources close to the situation. Kekst and RLM did not return calls seeking comment.
No one at Hollinger's UK offices was available for comment on the appointments, but it is understood that Bell Pottinger will try to quell speculation that Hollinger is about to sell the Telegraph Group, which comprises London newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.
Canadian-based Hollinger, which also owns the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun- Times, is under pressure to sell off its various businesses following the resignation of CEO Black. Black quit Hollinger after it emerged that he had received millions of dollars in unauthorized payments.
Last week, FTSE 100 publisher The Daily Mail and General Trust Group (DMGT) officially declared its interest in buying the Telegraph titles, and hired London-based Finsbury to advise it on the PR implications of a possible bid. The appointment does not affect DMGT's arrangement with retained financial PR adviser Tulchan Communications.
Richard Desmond, owner of UK tabloid Daily Express, is also reported to be lining up a bid for the Telegraph titles.