EDINBURGH — Bell Pottinger, the dirty PR firm that took instructions from President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane on behalf of the Gupta family, is unlikely to survive the #GuptaCurse. It appears to be going under. Although accountants will not yet say whether the company is insolvent, the company’s 250 employees have been told that it is possible the company could be put into administration within days. Its reputation is in tatters and it is unable to fix it, which is a remarkable situation for a company that has specialised in crisis communications. The death of Bell Pottinger is a victory for patriotic South Africans who fought against a company that developed an evil race-baiting campaign to destabilise a fragile democracy – all in the name of greed. – Jackie Cameron
By Thulisizwe Sithole
Hopes are fading that a buyer for scandal-hit PR agency Bell Pottinger will be found, the Financial Times reports.
Bell Pottinger staff have been told that the company is likely to go into administration as early as next Monday after failed attempts to find a buyer.
The London-headquartered company’s chairman Mark Smith briefed staff with a representative from accountants BDO, which was recently hired to find new investment as clients and key staff deserted the agency.
Angry staff demanded to know whether they would be paid, the FT reports.
Bell Pottinger has about 250 employees worldwide. Global clients including HSBC, TalkTalk and Ascential recently abandoned the firm following a damning report by the Public Relations and Communications Association on Bell Pottinger work for the Gupta family.
Bell Pottinger has been exposed in the #GuptaLeaks for inciting racial violence and working hand-in-glove with President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane to roll out an anti-white campaign. It was paid at least £100 000-a-month to do this work while at the same time taking money to promote SA Tourism.
The Gupta and Zuma families are at the centre of corruption allegations.
Meanwhile, Richemont and Investec publicly distanced themselves from Bell Pottinger some time back.
As recently as last month, Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson was optimistic his company would survive what he painted as something of a storm in a tea cup. Bell Pottinger is no stranger to controversy and has been in the news before for creating fake news.
However what caught Bell Pottinger off-guard in its Gupta work is that it did not anticipate that South Africans would protest against its activities and that influential figures in the UK and elsewhere would take note of public opinion and then act against the company.
Citizens actively campaigned on South African streets, in London and through the social media to bring Bell Pottinger down to punish it for its role in damaging the fledgling democracy. They called on Bell Pottinger clients to dump the PR firm rather than work with a corrupt corporate.
Leading the charge was the Democratic Alliance (DA), a political party that instituted the PRCA investigation into Bell Pottinger’s transgressions of the industry’s ethical code of conduct. The DA is an opposition party that has been working to remove President Zuma from power and push for prosecutions in connection with corruption and state capture.
Bell Pottinger is not the only company in the sights of angry South Africans. Global consultancies KPMG, McKinsey and SAP are among the big businesses that have been exposed in the Zupta – a combination of the Zuma and Gupta names – scandal that has engulfed the country.