Bell rules out sale of Chime's PR operations

LONDON - Chime Communications boss Lord Bell has ruled out selling any of the group's PR operations following last week's profit warning which wiped 74% off the company's share price in a single day.

Bell confirmed he was in discussions over the sale of ad agency HHCL to WPP and said he expected a final outcome "sooner rather than later".

But he said selling the group's PR firms -- which include QBO-BPPR and Smithfield Financial -- was not an option.

Bell insisted he was "relaxed and confident" despite the market's reaction to Chime's trading statement issued last week, which said the group expected profits to be "well below market expectations".

"This is a profitable business and we'll go on being a profitable business," he said.

Chime is now renegotiating its arrangements with the Royal Bank of Scotland, following news that the group had breached its banking covenants due to higher than expected £12m restructuring costs.

The group pinpointed the tech and City PR slowdown as a main reason for the expected slump in profits.

Meanwhile, the Interpublic Group of Companies posted its third-quarter results, detailing a £115m restatement of previously issued financial statements dating back to 1997. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into the group's accounting.

Interpublic also reported an 18% drop in PR revenues and an overall revenue decline of 7.4% to £950m.

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