Bell Pottinger buyout passes vote despite Sorrell’s rejection

LORD Bell’s management buyout of Bell Pottinger was yesterday approved by 63 per cent of parent group Chime’s investors, despite opposition from its biggest shareholder.

The £19.6m deal is expected to complete on 30 June, with new company Bell Pottinger Private (BPP) commencing business on 1 July as one of the UK’s top five public relations groups.

But Chime’s largest shareholder WPP, with just over 21 per cent of the stock, voted against the deal.

WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell had previously spoken out against the way the new company was valued, and said it “sets a terrible precedent” for Chime to retain a 25 per cent stake.

Lord Bell said this would not sour relations between him and Sorrell, telling City A.M.: “We’ve been firm friends for 30 years, I have huge admiration for him.”

Lord Bell will step down from Chime, after more than 20 years at its helm, to become chairman of BPP. He will be joined by long-standing colleague Piers Pottinger as deputy chairman and James Henderson as chief executive.

“It’s time for a new adventure – I’m absolutely delighted. It’s out with the old and in with the new,” Lord Bell said.

He declined to give specific details of his plans for BPP, but said he was “thrilled” not to be running a public company anymore.