Bell Pottinger’s Middle Eastern arm plots breakaway as administration nears

Staff at the UAE base of stricken advertising firm Bell Pottinger are seeking to undertake a last-minute management buy-out of the businesses Middle East assets in a last-ditch attempt to remain in business should its parent company enter administration later today.

Bell Pottinger Middle East (BPME) already operates as a separate legal entity to the London headquarters and had refused to put its name to the controversial Oakbay account in South Africa, putting healthy distance between it and the scandal now threatening to engulf its parent.

BPME managing director Archie Berens said: “As an independent and financially secure business in charge of its own destiny it will now be up to us to consider a whole range of options.”

Berens is believed to have secured the interests of a number of potential investors, in stark contrast to the London parent for which accountancy firm BDO has thus far failed to find any willing suitors as its clients rapidly jump from the sinking ship.

The latest to fire Bell Pottinger as its agency was Waitrose, which belatedly revealed that it had fired the company three weeks ago when the scandal, involving a covert PR campaign designed to ferment racial tensions in South Africa on behalf of Oakbay, became known.

Middle Eastern moves to forge their own path echo that of Bell Pottinger’s Asian arm, led by co-founder Piers Pottinger, who intends to rebrand the Singapore-based operation as Klareco Communications.

It is expected that accountancy firm BDO will place Bell Pottinger into administration as early as today or tomorrow, culminating a torrid few weeks for the agency which was unceremoniously ejected from the PRCA after weathering the loss of chief executive James Henderson.