Hanover Middle East has agreed to buy Bell Pottinger Middle East (BPME) in Dubai and its operating licence in Abu Dhabi. BPME is a subsidiary of UK-based Bell Pottinger PR agency, and the Abu Dhabi office is a branch office.
Hanover Middle East is a subsidiary of corporate communications and public affairs consultancy Hanover Group, which has offices in London, Brussels and Dublin. It opened its doors in Dubai in April, and Middle East managing director Jonty Summers told his new team: “Obviously we didn’t set out to grow by buying business here. Our original plan was to use our brains and hard work to grow quickly.”
Bell Pottinger went into administration in September after being embroiled in a campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa.
A statement from Hanover said: “BPME was not involved in the controversy that led to the collapse of the UK business and has successfully traded through the affair under the leadership of managing director Archie Berens. The business has a raft of blue-chip clients in the region, who have remained supportive during this time.” Their biggest client is Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Properties and Development.
The acquisition has brought 17 staff into Hanover, including 14 consultants. Summers says there will be no redundancies since the new-to-the-region Hanover had a team of only three consultants in Dubai.
Summers will become managing director of the combined business, Berens will become chairman, and they will be supported in management by director Amy Piek, who also comes over from BPME.
Hanover has a reputation for crisis communications and reputation management. It also has a strong healthcare practice in Europe, which Summers said it plans to introduce to the UAE in 2018. On top if this it has a strong sports practice, and a range of technology clients globally.
BPME has a solid reputation for corporate communications, and Summers estimates the cash acquisition – Hanover carries no debt – has accelerated Hanover’s regional growth by about three years.
Campaign understands that two other communications agencies – Four Communications and FTI Consulting – were also bidding to acquire BPME.
Summers said the new team creates a strong corporate practice that is “very balanced in terms of regional and international experience”.
He added: “We are well placed to deliver on core C-suite communications services – corporate narrative, thought leadership and crisis. New financial communications capabilities strongly resonate with Middle East business leaders.”