Hanover acquires Bell Pottinger's operations in Middle East

UK-based Hanover Group has acquired outright the Middle East business of Bell Pottinger, including its Abu Dhabi operating license, with Archie Berens becoming chair of the new combined operation.

(L-r) Piek, Summers and Berens - Hanover ME's leadership team
(L-r) Piek, Summers and Berens - Hanover ME's leadership team

The sale, for an undisclosed fee, was negotiated by BDO, the insolvency practitioners acting on the administration of Bell Pottinger Private Limited, which infamously collapsed in September.

Bell Pottinger Middle East's 14 consultants and additional support staff, based principally in Dubai with a smaller office in Abu Dhabi, will move across to Hanover. BPME managing director Archie Berens becomes chair of Hanover Middle East, while Amy Piek remains as a director.

Berens' fellow MD Tim Falconer left BPME last month to join Teneo, having initially remained with the business following the collapse of its UK parent, saying it would consider a number of options for its future. The business also claimed at this time that it had rejected the Oakbay account, which was later the catalyst for the downfal of its London operation.

Hanover Middle East was launched in March by former Edelman director Jonty Summers, with a team of four in Dubai.

A statement from Hanover said: "Bell Pottinger Middle East was not involved in the controversy that led to the collapse of the UK business and has successfully traded through the affair under the leadership of Managing Director Archie Berens. The business has a raft of blue chip clients in the region, who have remained supportive during this time."

Aldar Properties, a property firm part-owned by Abu Dhabi's state-owned group Mubadala, is understood to be BPME's largest client, and it also works across financial services, energy, professional services and sport.

Berens said: "I am delighted we have found a professional partner for our first-class team, whom I would like to thank for their loyalty and dedication during the uncertainty of the last two months. I would also like to thank our clients for their patience, support and encouragement. Hanover is an award-winning consultancy and incredibly well run, and we are looking forward to an exciting future together."

Hanover said the deal should see the firm's fee income exceed £20m in 2018. It now has 139 consultants and global revenues totalled $15.2m (£11.2m) in 2016, according to PRWeek's Global Agency Business Report.

Hanover was advised on the deal by Joe Hine, a partner at M&A specialist SI Partners.

Bell Pottinger's Asian operation has since been acquired by its directors and rebranded as Klareco.

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