Bell Pottinger plots further acquisitions after Centreground deal

Bell Pottinger group CEO James Henderson has said the agency is likely to look for similar acquisitions in future, following its purchase of Centreground Political Communications.

Henderson: "We will look to do similar acquisitions in future"
Henderson: "We will look to do similar acquisitions in future"

Henderson said: "We’re two years on from the MBO now – this is our first acquisition – and the business is very much on track in all areas. I think we will look to do similar acquisitions in future where we can do small bolt-ons of like-minded people to grow our disciplines and expertise."

As revealed first by PRWeek yesterday morning, Bell Pottinger is acquiring an agency, founded by former Tony Blair adviser Darren Murphy in 2011, that will give its public affairs offering a more Labour-friendly line-up.

Murphy will become chairman of Bell Pottinger's geo-political practice following the deal's completion, while Centreground director Razi Rahman will become managing director of Bell Pottinger Political. 

Rahman spent seven years as assistant political secretary to Blair at 10 Downing Street and subsequently worked with Murphy at APCO before joining him at Centreground.

Tim Collins, the former Conservative MP, remains chairman of Bell Pottinger Political.

Henderson said that Bell Pottinger had come across Murphy and his team while in the process of working out how to bolster the agency's public affairs offering following the resignation of former Bell Pottinger Political MD Stephen Lotinga in January.

"During the headhunting process we were introduced to Darren first and then his team and we felt there were a lot of synergies between the two businesses," Henderson said. "We’ve always been keen to strengthen our cross-party expertise within political and Darren has the rare combination of international and domestic experience we were looking for."

Murphy said: "The Centreground team is excited by the opportunity to join Bell Pottinger. Bell Pottinger’s domestic and international offer will be strengthened and complemented by our team’s experience of campaigns, communications, politics and government."

Lotinga was poached by Edelman in January, though he left Edelman within weeks of joining in March to become director of communications for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

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