Chime in another controversial deal as it buys Lord Coe’s sports company for £12m

Much muttering in UK adland today about mini-marcoms group Chime Communications’ purchase of (Lord) Sebastian Coe’s sports consultancy company Complete Leisure Group for a reported £12m.

Coe (left), who was chairman of the London Olympics, owns 90 per cent of the shares. Coalition government foreign secretary William Hague, Coe’s former boss when Coe was a Tory MP, also owns shares.

Chime did very nicely out of the London Games (£30m or so according to some sources) through its rapidly-expanding roster of sports marketing companies although the company says this was all paid for by Olympics sponsor companies and others, not games organiser LOCOG.

But, to put it mildly, this all looks a bit close to home.

In the world of sports marketing it’s all about who you are and who you know and Coe, as London Olympics boss and a double gold medallist, knows everybody.

Chime is now run by CEO Chris Satterthwaite who took over from (Lord) Tim Bell when Bell and Piers Pottinger decided to buy out the struggling Bell Pottinger PR business, the original foundation of Chime, earlier this year. Under Satterthwaite the company has invested heavily in sports marketing outfits, not so daft as the big events just get bigger and clients all over the world will be husbanding their resources for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, both to be held in Brazil.

But many people will see the Complete Leisure Group acquisition as a Coe signing-on fee. Not wholly dissimilar to the £4.75m acquisition of former Barclays marketing boss Simon Gulliford’s Gulliford Consulting last October. Gulliford had been a consultant on the £50m Easyjet pitch, which Chime’s VCCP won.

But, as with the Lord Coe deal, it’s a people business.

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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.