By Arun Sudhaman
LONDON: Chime Communications chairman Lord Bell has emerged as a potential PR counsellor for Lalit Modi, the Indian businessman who founded the multi-billion dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament before dramatically falling from grace earlier this year.
Bell, who has developed a reputation for handling sensitive PR assignments, confirmed with the Holmes Report that talks are ongoing with Modi. The 46-year-old Modi has been based in London since he was ousted as IPL commissioner and chairman, amid charges of financial irregularities and tax evasion.
Modi, who denies all wrongdoing, conceptualised and built the IPL into a globally successful sports brand worth more than $4 billion since its 2008 launch. Indian media has also reported that Modi faces the revocation of his Indian passport, and detention if he returns to the country.
Bell declined to comment on the details of the discussions, calling them “commercially confidential”. However, the Holmes Report understands that he will seek to defuse the controversy and media glare that has accompanied Modi since his IPL reign ended.
If Bell does take on the assignment, he will work alongside Modi’s existing advisors, which include lawyer Mahmood Abidi and lobbyist Dilip Cherian. Cherian heads one of India’s biggest PR firms, Perfect Relations, which has long-term ties with the Modi family business, GPI.
Cherian told the Holmes Report that Bell will handle the “London end” of the assignment, while he oversees India.
“As Modi proceeds with his personal cases, where he feels the need to either inform the media or provide the media with backdrop , we are able to provide the inputs as well as the broader analysis that is needed,” said Cherian. “We also need to make sure he is heard in London."
Chime Communications PR firm Bell Pottinger has attracted considerable media attention for its work on behalf of such clients as Trafigura and the Sri Lankan Government. In September, it also emerged that the agency is handling a global reputation assignment for the Government of Egypt.
Prior to forming Chime Communications in 1989, Lord Bell ran the publicity campaigns for the Conservative Party’s three successive UK election victories. He is also one of the founding members of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.