Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Lord Bell has agreed a £19.6 million deal to buy Chime Communication's Bell Pottinger branded agencies.
The agencies will come under a newly created company, BPP Communications, with Tim Bell as chairman and Chime deputy chairman, Piers Pottinger, as its deputy chairman.
The agencies concerned are Bell Pottinger Public Relations, Pelham Bell Pottinger (60%), Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, Bell Pottinger Sans Frontières and Bell Pottinger Middle East. BPP will acquire the 40% stake in Pelham Bell Pottinger held by senior management.
The businesses had a combined operating income of £29m in the year to the end of December 2011, with pre-tax and interest profits of £2.4m, representing 8% of Chime's total profit before interest and tax.
Tim and Piers will resign from Chime's board when the deal has been approved by the group's shareholders, expected to take place on 18 June. Chime will still have a right to appoint a director to the board of BPP, who will initially be its chief operating officer, Mark Smith.
Christopher Satterthwaite, chief executive officer at Chime, said: "The disposal is a natural evolution given the planned repositioning of the group and is a key part of our future growth plan.
“When completed, the group's growth prospects will be strong with a good acquisition pipeline, including international opportunities, already identified and funds available to make these acquisitions."
Chime will now move from being a diversified group with an emphasis on PR to being a comms and sports marketing business, with a particular focus on digital, marketing and healthcare comms.