Disgraced Bell Pottinger collapses into administration amid dramatic implosion

JOHANNESBURG — It’s the end of the road for controversial UK PR firm Bell Pottinger as it officially entered administration today, just days after the PRCA booted it from its association for unethical behaviour. The storm around the propaganda campaign it carried out for the Zuptas has resulted in one of the most dramatic business closures of our time. The company bled client losses while its debts piled up. A nasty tax bill has also been the sting in the tail. Many South Africans will be glad to see the back of Bell Pottinger whose arrogance and sheer unethical behaviour around representing Oakbay Capital made the company a swear word in the country. The question now is who else will follow suit as the world becomes smaller for the Guptas. Many other bigger companies such as SAP, McKinsey and KPMG have found themselves entangled in the Gupta web – will more companies fall? – Gareth van Zyl

BDO statement*

Bell Pottinger has been heavily financially impacted by the well-publicised issues resulting in losses of clients, partners and staff and culminating in the expulsion from the Public Relations and Communications Association (‘PRCA’).

BBC Newsnight focuses on Bell Pottinger.
BBC Newsnight recently focused on Bell Pottinger.

Late last week, the level of those losses, compounded by the inability of the business to win new clients, was such that remaining management were left with no option but to commence the process to place all UK Bell Pottinger entities into administration.

A notice of intention to appoint three partners in BDO as administrators was filed on the evening of Friday 8 September 2017. The appointment became effective today, 12 September 2017.

The entities in administration are: Bell Pottinger Private Ltd, Bell Pottinger LLP and Bell Pottinger Services Ltd. None of the subsidiaries outside the UK is in administration; they continue to trade under the control of their separate management teams.

A BDO spokesman said:

Following an immediate assessment of the financial position, the administrators have made a number of redundancies. The administrators are now working with the remaining partners and employees to seek an orderly transfer of Bell Pottinger’s clients to other firms in order to protect and realise value for creditors. We have taken appropriate steps to preserve the rights Bell Pottinger may have in relation to the failure of the business.

  • BDO UK provides tax, audit and assurance, advisory and business outsourcing services to companies.
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