Harare, Zimbabwe (News of the South)-Banking giant HSBC has become the latest high profile company to sever ties with troubled public relations business Bell Pottinger.


The PR firm has seen a loss of clients since being expelled from the industry trade body for a campaign stirring racial divisions in South Africa.


On Tuesday a major Bell Pottinger investor walked away from the firm and scrapped a plan to sell its 27% stake.


Chime, which counts WPP as a big investor, wrote off the stake’s value.


HSBC said it had used Bell Pottinger for specific projects but would no longer do so.


Clydesdale Bank, the construction company Carillion, and TalkTalk are among a string of big names reportedly to have cut ties with the PR firm.


Luxury goods firm Richemont, whose chairman Johann Rupert is South African, stopped dealing with Bell Pottinger earlier this year, as did the Investec investment bank.


The future of Bell Pottinger is in question after the scandal, with even its founder, Lord Tim Bell, saying its days a probably numbered.


The Financial Times has reported that Bell Pottinger has hired the accountancy firm BDO to advise on a potential sale.


However, a BDO spokesman declined to comment.


‘Near the end’

The firm’s work on the campaign for Oakbay Capital, a South African company owned by the wealthy Gupta family, was accused of inciting racial hatred.


Lord Bell, who founded Bell Pottinger in the 1990s, resigned last year, partly due to his unease with the company’s deal with the Guptas.


When asked on BBC2’s Newsnight if he thought the PR company would survive the scandal, he replied: “I think it is probably getting near the end.”-BBC

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