Clock Ticks for Bell Pottinger

Clock Ticks for Bell Pottinger

Clock Ticks for Bell Pottinger

Clients, shareholders and investors are deserting PR giant Bell Pottinger as the scandal surrounding a campaign it mounted in South Africa gathers pace.

"We are reviewing the situation", a spokesman for Bank of Ireland said in response to questions from The Irish Times on Wednesday.

The accusations relate to Bell Pottinger's relationship with Oakbay, a company controlled by the wealthy Gupta family of Indian-born businessmen, which has widely been accused of exerting undue influence over South African president Jacob Zuma.

Chime instead wrote off its investment and handed its holding back.

The firm's troubles began when South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, complained to the PRCA that Bell Pottinger's campaign was trying to "divide and conquer" the South African public in order to keep Zuma and his party in power.

The slogan, aired frequently on a Gupta-owned television station, quickly gained traction in a country where the white minority still wields disproportionate economic clout two decades after the end of apartheid.

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It is understood to have given its 27 per cent Bell Pottinger stake to Bell Pottinger for nothing in a scramble to distance itself from the firm. We find it inconceivable that an entire nation learnt of how Bell Pottinger was able to engineer a misleading and deceitful PR campaign that would further the aims of a private family (the Guptas) to benefit from state capture, while senior management were seemingly oblivious to this conduct for so long.

PRCA director general Francis Ingham condemned the firm's work on the South Africa contract as "reprehensible".

"We have used Bell Pottinger for specific projects in the past but will not be doing so in the future", the bank said in a statement. This was the same month that the PR firm's chief executive, James Henderson, offered an "unequivocable and absolute" apology for an "inappropriate and offensive" social media campaign.

Earlier this week, co-founder Timothy Bell, who left the firm past year, told BBC's Newsnight programme that he thought the agency is unlikely to survive.

Bell Pottinger declined to comment. "However, I think it is important I take proper accountability for what has happened".

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