Go-ahead for Lord Bell's £20m Bell Pottinger buyout


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The Independent Online

Lord Bell's £19.6m buyout of the PR firm Bell Pottinger has got the green light after 75 per cent of shareholders in its parent Chime Communications backed it – despite Chime's largest investor WPP voting against.

His new firm, Bell Pottinger Private Communications, begins trading in July.

"The next adventure begins," said Lord Bell, 70, who has no plans to retire. "I love it. I don't smoke a pipe and I don't have slippers."

Lord Bell, pictured, will step down as Chime chairman, and is glad he will no longer have to face the scrutiny of the City.

"I won't have to bother, thank God," he said, stressing the word "Private" in the name BPP Communications. "It means I can go back to speaking on behalf of clients."

Chime has come under fire because of Bell Pottinger's controversial clients, which have included foreign regimes. Staff also boasted about their use of "the dark arts" to undercover reporters in The Independent.

Lord Bell said he was "not in any way being triumphalist" about the management buyout, which Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP, a 21 per cent shareholder, claimed was poor value and set "a terrible precedent".

Chime's chief executive, Chris Satterthwaite, said: "Generally I agree with WPP's precedent about not allowing MBOs. This was an extraordinary situation."