x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

Bell Pottinger: Former CEO’s fiancée seeks return of investment in disgraced PR firm

Heather Kerzner has hired a top lawyer to try and reclaim some of her investment in the company

Heather Kerzner, former wife of Sol Kerzner, has hired a lawyer to look into her investment in disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger. Stephen Lock  /  The National
Heather Kerzner, former wife of Sol Kerzner, has hired a lawyer to look into her investment in disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger. Stephen Lock / The National

The fiancée of former Bell Pottinger Chief Executive James Henderson has hired a lawyer to try and retrieve money she invested in the public relations firm before its collapse this week.

Bell Pottinger's British arm went into administration after the global PR agency's clients deserted it over a racially-charged political campaign it ran in South Africa.

The scandal led to the resignation of Mr Henderson, who is also the company’s biggest shareholder, while its second-biggest investor wrote off its stake.

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Mr Henderson’s partner Heather Kerzner, has hired top lawyer Dan Morrison to look into any claims she might have.

When approached by The Times, Mr Morrison said: “My client invested a substantial amount into Bell Pottinger at the end of April 2017, only a short period prior to the collapse of the company. We have been engaged to advise in relation to the legal claims that arise as a result.”

Bell Pottinger, a public relations firm that works for companies and governments around the world, has been thrown out of the industry's British trade body because of a controversial campaign in South Africa. Matt Dunham/ AP Photo
Bell Pottinger, a public relations firm that works for companies and governments around the world, has been thrown out of the industry's British trade body because of a controversial campaign in South Africa. Matt Dunham/ AP Photo

The publication reports that Ms Kerzner, who was formerly married to South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, invested millions to buy 15 per cent of Bell Pottinger, an investment which is now worthless.

The 48-year-old is believed to have postponed her nuptials with Mr Henderson, which were due to take place in November this year.

Bell Pottinger, the famous firm that worked behind the scenes on some of the most defining moments in recent history, from the election of Margaret Thatcher to the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, began to unravel in July this year after an email published in South African media showed it had sought to stress the continued "existence of economic apartheid".

With the inflammatory slogan "white monopoly capital" running on a Gupta-owned television channel, the country's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, complained that Bell Pottinger was seeking to "divide and conquer" the public.