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Klareco buys 90 per cent Bell Pottinger Asia stake to become new entity

Bell Pottinger Asia has officially severed ties with its scandal-hit British parent company after its owners acquired the majority share stake held by the UK office.

The agency, now known as Klareco Communications, was previously 90 per cent owned by Bell Pottinger UK, which dramatically collapsed last month following its orchestration of racially divisive campaign in South Africa.

Ang Shih-Huei

The remaining 10 per cent of the shares were held by Asia chief executive Ang Shih-Huei. However, she has now increased her share to 55 per cent, while 45 per cent of the business is now owned by Singapore managing director Mark Worthington, according to the Holmes Report.

Despite the sizeable stake held by the UK office, the Asian operation has repeatedly asserted it was a “separate legal entity”. Neither Ang nor Worthington commented on details of the deal to acquire the shares held by administrators in the UK, citing “confidentiality reasons”.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Asia and one of the UK agency’s original founders, Piers Pottinger, is said to have resigned his position.

Another Bell Pottinger Asia partner, Adeline Goh, also departed from the agency to join rival Burson-Marsteller as managing director in August – the same month as when Bell Pottinger was told it would face sanctions by the Public Relations and Communications Association in the UK for stirring up anger about “white monopoly capital” in South Africa.

The agency was hired by the country’s wealthy Gupta family to divert attention away from allegations that they were benefiting financially from their close links to President Jacob Zuma.

Two weeks after the hearing, James Henderson, Bell Pottinger’s CEO, resigned and on September 4, the PRCA announced the UK agency’s expulsion. Four days later, the Asian operation announced its intention to rebrand as Klareco Communications.

The agency, which has 50 staff based across Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Myanmar, has since lost contracts with global clients, including HSBC, owing to them dropping the UK agency. However, Ang told Holmes their Asian client base still remained intact.

As a legal entity, the company will maintain the same registration number with ACRA, with the only amendments to their status being the company name and the ownership structure, the agency has clarified.

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