Lowe Bell Communications could be earning as much as pounds 20,000 a
week to defend Standard Life’s move to sell off its stake in the Bank of
The agency’s City PR and lobbying wings - Lowe Bell Financial and Lowe
Bell Political - were hired eight weeks ago by the Edinburgh-based life
insurer to handle communications issues arising from its intention to
dispose of part or all of its 32 per cent share in the bank. Activity
has intensified over the last two weeks after news of the proposed sell
off leaked to the press, provoking uproar within the Scottish financial
Purchased in 1985 from Barclays Bank, Standard Life’s pounds 900 million
share was seen as a guarantee of the bank’s independence against non-
Scottish institutions which could use the 32 per cent stake to mount a
full takeover bid.
Standard Life’s move also has serious political implications. Last week
the Bank of Scotland’s governor Sir Bruce Pattullo resigned from the
Standard Life board in protest at the threat to the bank, while Scottish
Secretary Michael Forsyth is known to be opposed to a hostile bid.
Lowe Bell Political’s lobbying activity is led by Kevin Bell, who worked
as a director of Michael Forsyth Associates in the 1980s, when the
present Secretary of State ran his own public affairs consultancy.