The Asian branch of PR agency Bell Pottinger has rebranded itself as Klareco Communications and plans to separate from the scandal-hit British parent which it expects will go into administration next week. Silvia Antonioli reports.
It was scandal they couldn't control Now one of the world's biggest PR firms is on the verge of extinction. Bell Pottinger's Asian branch is trying to take distance and reinvent itself. The influential company can boast a series of controversial clients. Among them: Oscar Pistorius, the Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad , former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. But it was a South African campaign that threatens to sink it. The firm was accused of stirring up racial tension when working with the president Zuma's son on a campaign for the powerful Gupta family. This pushed the British PR agencies body to expel it for a minimum of five years. An unprecedented step for such a prominent member. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF STRATEGY, CIBC "I think the speed of the move is certainly something to cause some consternation but clearly when you look at the legacy issue that is really or has been afflicting the company in relation to their activities in in South Africa it's unsurprising that clients have been moving away." The Asian wing of the disgraced firm is now called Klareco Communications. Klareco means clarity in Esperanto - which some may find ironic. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF STRATEGY, CIBC "One suspects that there may well be something that will arise and there will be a little bit of a sort of a phoenix rising A rising from the ashes from certain individuals. But clearly as a company as it stands it seems heading inextricably towards administration." The firm's chief executive and biggest investor have quit. And even co-founder Tim Bell, who resigned last year, seems to have thrown in the towel saying his agency was now "close to the end".