Bell Pottinger hit the headlines recently over reports that it had aggravated racial tension in South Africa. It immediately began to lose clients – including international bank HSBC, South African investment bank Investec, mining company Acacia and construction company Carillion, as well as partners and staff.
This culminated last week in the expulsion of the agency from the UK's largest trade body, the Public Relations and Communications Association.
BDO was brought in to advise on saving the business. But in a statement yesterday, the firm said, “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.”
Last week, in an interview with the BBC, the agency's co-founder, Lord Bell, said that he thought it unlikely that the firm would survive.
The entities entering administration are Bell Pottinger Private, Bell Pottinger LLP and Bell Pottinger Services.
The administration, however, only applies to the UK. None of the overseas subsidiaries will be affected, and will continue to trade under independent management.
“Following an immediate assessment of the financial position, the administrators have made a number of redundancies,” a BDO spokesperson added.
“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.”