HSBC dumps Bell Pottinger over South Africa 'race hate' campaign

James Henderson who quit as chief executive at the weekend and his fiancée Heather Kerzner own 37 per cent of the PR firm

British clients were similarly rushing to dump the firm yesterday, with HSBC, St James's Place, the wealth manager, DS Smith, the packaging group, and Carillion, the construction group, all in the process of severing ties. A source told The Guardian UK that a number of senior figures in the company who have directly brought money into the firm have also quit.

It's being reported on Wednesday afternoon that the company has put itself up for sale after being expelled from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

"People are being offered other opportunities".

Bell Pottinger was fighting for its survival last night after its biggest outside shareholder renounced its holding, British clients started to defect in large numbers and senior staff began to seek new jobs.

Bell Pottinger's expulsion comes after the PRCA launched its investigation into Bell Pottinger's work for Oakbay Capital in South Africa on July 5, following a complaint from the DA.

The billionaire Guptas have been accused of benefiting financially from their close links to Jacob Zuma, the South African President.

In a statement, Bell Pottinger said it accepted there were lessons to be learned from its South Africa campaign but disputed "the basis on which the (PRCA) ruling was made".

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"[Clydesdale] and its associated brands no longer work with Bell Pottinger", said a spokesman for the bank.

TalkTalk, one of the UK's biggest broadband operators, had a contract with Bell Pottinger which ended earlier this year.

In a two-page document, the law firm concluded that Bell Pottinger's SA campaign included material meant to divide South Africans.

"Due to reasons of confidentiality we do not comment on business matters of this nature", a BDO spokesperson said.

Previously, Investec, challenger bank CYBG had already terminated their relationship with the company.

Chime, co-owned by U.S. investment firm Providence Equity Partners and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP group, gave up trying to sell its 27 per cent holding and is understood to have given the stake to the company's board several weeks ago as the scandal reached boiling point.

Oakbay was a lucrative account for Bell Pottinger, worth £100,000 ($130,000) a month, according to an email sent by former CEO Tim Bell who spoke on the BBC's "Newsnight" program Monday.

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