Chime Communications, Sir Tim Bell’s publicly listed PR group, is
expected to complete its merger with HHCL & Partners this morning in a
deal bankrolled by Martin Sorrell’s WPP. Sources have valued HHCL at
pounds 24 million.
WPP will buy a 29.9 per cent interest in Chime to finance the HHCL
It will have non-executive representation on Chime’s board. HHCL will
take a major stake in Chime, in what is, in effect, a reverse
Rupert Howell, HHCL’s managing partner, will become joint chief
executive of Chime, with its chief executive, Piers Pottinger. Howell is
eventually expected to succeed Bell as chairman.
Howell and the four other founding partners, Steve Henry, Axel
Chaldecott, Adam Lury and Robin Price, have been locked into the deal
for two years and will still run the agency. The takeover also includes
the HHCL Brasserie, Michaelides & Bednash and In Real Life.
The deal gives HHCL access to a global network, as well as public
It will now be able to pool international clients through the WPP
network, which includes J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather, and its
media arm, MindShare.
Howell refused to give details of the deal, but said: ’I can confirm we
are in latter of stages of negotiations but nothing is signed yet.’