Chime announces new sports marketing buy as it prepares to face down critics at AGM

Lord Bell’s London-based marcoms group Chime Communications is taking a big bet on sports marketing and has just announced an agreement to buy 60 per cent of Brazil’s Golden Goal for an initial £2.4m. With earnouts in 2014 and 2017 the deal could be worth a maximum £9.5m to Golden Goal founders and shareholders Cadu Ferreira and Mauro Correa who keep 20 per cent each and who are staying with the business.

Golden Goal will operate under the Chime Sports Marketing (CSM) umbrella along with brands like Fast Track and Essentially. Brazil is the venue for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Less happily for Chime it will face questions to Lord Bell at today’s AGM about the plan by Bell (pictured) and PR boss Piers Pottinger to buy out the Bell Pottinger PR companies from Chime. Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP has recently increased its stake in Chime to just over 20 per cent, which gives it two seats on the Chime board. Sorrell has said he opposes the buy-out move so Chime can hardly claim the board is unanimous even if a majority of shareholders support the plan. Bell and Pottinger only need 50.1 per cent approval.

Bell may also face questions about last year’s purchase of Simon Gulliford’s marketing consultancy for a maximum £4.75m including £2m or so already paid in cash. Gulliford’s main client seems to have been Easyjet for whom he acted as a consultant on its 2011 advertising review, which awarded the business to Chime’s VCCP ad agency.

Along with sports marketing, VCCP is producing a bigger share of Chime’s revenue, once based mainly on PR. As well as Easyjet it has recently won Muller and is on Tesco’s (long) shortlist for its £110m account.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.