Spotlight On... Tim Allan; Founder of Portland public relations consultancy
Friday 13 April 2012
So why is Tony Blair's one-time flack back in the news?
Tim Allan, deputy to Alastair Campbell in the mid-1990s, has sold a majority stake in Portland Communications, the political consultancy and PR firm he founded 11 years ago, to the US marketing giant Omnicom for up to £20m.
Some rare good news from the lobby firm then?
Well, it does make a change from recent coverage. Earlier this year Portland was accused of removing "wife beater" references on a Wikipedia page for its client, Stella Artois brewer AB InBev. And Labour MP Tom Watson has also accused it of trimming down entries relating to a state controlled bank in Kazakhstan – whose president Tony Blair is currently advising.
What other interesting clients does Portland have?
It also advises the Kremlin on its dealings with the British Government. Other clients range from the Government's information service, COI, to corporate giants such as Jaguar Land Rover, Tesco and Vodafone, not forgetting charities and good causes such as the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Gurkha Welfare Trust and the British Red Cross.
So Tim Allan is glad he turned down the job of Blair's special adviser?
As majority shareholder, the deal could net him as much as £10m over the next three years if performance targets are met. So he probably doesn't regret his decision to leave Downing Street and join BSkyB as director of communications in 1995.
Is Allan more a New Yorker than a Londoner now?
With clients including Coca-Cola, Apple, Google and McDonald's, he has been spending a lot of time working from the New York office. But the new deal means Portland will be working with Omnicom-owned political and communications firm g+ Europe. So we will be seeing a bit more of Mr Allan back in Blighty.
From government to Omnicom and beyond?
Portland now has more than 85 people in the team and Mr Allan said yesterday: "Looking back at where it all started 11 years ago with me and a laptop, it's fantastic to be announcing a deal of this scale."
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