City & Corporate: Merged firm sets out stall

Henderson to run Pelham Bell Pottinger following merger.

The make-up of Pelham Bell Pottinger has been unveiled following the completion of the merger between Pelham and Bell Pottinger's Corporate & Financial division.

Pelham MD James Henderson will lead the combined agency, with BPC&F's prev-ious MD Stephen Benzikie and the agency's former deputy chairman Charles Cook coming in at director level.

BPC&F's chairman Piers Pottinger will not be part of the merged agency, instead remaining deputy chairman of Bell Pottinger owner Chime Communications.

Others moving across at director level are David Rydell and Ben Woodford. Former director Ann-Marie Wilkinson left BPC&F shortly before the completion of the merger, joining M: Communications.

The merger has resulted in 17 staff joining Pelham, bringing the overall headcount to more than 50.

Henderson insisted there was no duplication of roles and the combined agency would be looking to expand. 'The combined structure is already probably as lean as it could be,' he said. 'If anything, in order to develop the business, we will need to make some senior hires as we meet our targets.'

Henderson will retain a significant chunk of equity in the business. Chime Communications has taken 60 per cent of shares in the merged business, while existing Pelham shareholders (of which Henderson was understood to own 90 per cent, with David Wynne-Morgan owning the balance) will take 40 per cent.

Chime will also pay Pelham £2m as part of the merger, as Pelham is contributing a larger slice of revenue and profits to the combined agency. In 2008, Pelham's fee income was £5.6m, with the deal valuing the agency close to this figure.

Lord Bell, chairman of Chime Communications, said: 'The equity situation is a reflection of how important James is to the business and how import-ant it is that people working in the business gain extra benefit from the work they do.'

It is thought that Chime is likely to increase its proportion of equity in the medium to long term, with the holding company likely to eventually acquire the entire business.

Henderson noted that Chime brands advise 35 of the FTSE 100 firms, but its financial arm only advises Imperial Tobacco. 'There is a real opportunity to work more closely on existing clients with other businesses, particularly in public affairs with an election coming up,' he said.

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