Lord Bell tells The Drum of his "relief" after Bell Pottinger MBO wins shareholder approval


By Cameron Clarke | Editor

June 18, 2012 | 3 min read

Lord Bell has told The Drum of his "relief and delight" after his £19.6m management buyout of his eponymous PR firm Bell Pottinger won the approval of shareholders at parent company Chime.

Lord Bell

But the Bell Pottinger chairman lambasted a culture of 'box-ticking' which he believes has held up the deal.

Bell told The Drum: "I have a sense of relief and delight. And regret that it took so long.

"That’s one of the things that’s wrong with Britain. Bureaucracy, regulation, compliance and box-ticking has made doing business extremely difficult, unpleasant, arduous and expensive.

"If the government had any sense whatsoever, it would undo as much of that as possible."

The management buyout was approved after 73.5% of Chime shareholders agreed to sell the agency at an Extraordinary General Meeting held earlier today.

But the sale has been strongly criticised by Chime shareholder Sir Martin Sorrell, who has been quoted as saying that "if it is a good deal for Tim it is a bad deal for Chime".

When The Drum put that remark to Bell, he replied: "He’s absolutely entitled to his opinion and I don’t agree with it."

Bell said the deal had received "nothing other than positive reaction" from clients and insisted Emirates' decision to review its account with Bell Pottinger was an "absolutely separate issue".

"The review has nothing whatsoever to do with the management buyout," he said. "This is the fourth time we’ve been through a review, so we’ll see."

Bell gave little away about his plans for the new Bell Pottinger but said he would continue to have a prominent role for the foreseeable future.

"I have been hands-on since I started working at the age of seventeen. I shall go on being hands-on so long as I’ve got hands.

"My personal ambitions are a matter for me privately. I’m now going to run a private company and I no longer have to tell anybody what I’m trying to do, unless I want to.

"Rather than speculate and guess, and tell you my ambitions and my vision, I would like to do it. When I have done it you can congratulate me on it or not."

The MBO will be complete on 30 June 2012. From 1 July the company will trade as Bell Pottinger Private.


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