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Lord Mandelson nets £10m windfall in deal with former Obama aide

Peter Mandelson
Labour peer to take a step back from the business - Jamie Lorriman

Peter Mandelson has ruled out a return to frontline politics as the Labour peer bagged a £10m windfall from the part-sale of his advisory firm to Barack Obama’s former polling guru.

The former minister said he was not intending to make a comeback after taking a step back from his lobbying business Global Counsel. It comes as current polling suggests Labour will form the next government after the election.

On April 17 Lord Mandelson sold a 20pc stake in his firm to a consulting business run by Jim Messina, who ran President Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.

The deal values the overall business at £30m. That in turn means the 35pc stakes held by Lord Mandelson and his business partner Benjamin Wegg-Prosser would be worth about £10.5m each.

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As part of a shake-up, Lord Mandelson will move from the role of chairman to president in an apparent step back from the business.

Archie Norman, the chairman of Marks & Spencer, will replace him as chairman.

Lord Mandelson, who is sometimes known as the “Dark Lord” for his previous role as a spin doctor, insisted this was not part of preparations for a more active role in politics.

He said: “I will continue to always be a cheerleader and champion of a Labour government but I do not intend to be a member of it.”

Reports suggest Lord Mandelson is closely advising Sir Keir Starmer as Labour plots a course back to power.

Having been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the 70-year-old peer conspicuously sat on the front row for a speech by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves at last year’s Labour conference.

Global Counsel also hosted a cocktail party at a restaurant in Liverpool during the conference that was attended by a string of influential figures including advisers to top members of the shadow cabinet.

The close involvement had sparked speculation that Lord Mandelson may be preparing for a role in Sir Keir Starmer’s cabinet. Labour has been out of power for more than a decade and Lord Mandelson has invaluable government experience.

One adviser to the party said: “If there was an opportunity to put him on the front bench, I’m sure we would jump at it, but I don’t think that’s what he wants.

“That said, when it comes to Peter, you should never count him out. And with his experience, it would be silly to turn him away.”

If Lord Mandelson did seek to make a return, it would not be the first time the peer has resuscitated his frontbench career.

He was forced to quit two cabinet roles under Sir Tony Blair, then served as a European Commissioner before being ennobled and returning to serve as Business Secretary under Gordon Brown.

On April 17, Global Counsel said the deal with Messina Group would allow both firms to better serve clients around the world.

Global Counsel was founded in 2010 and has a presence in London, Brussels, Singapore and Doha.

The Messina Group is mainly US-focused. It was founded in 2013 by Mr Messina, a former campaign manager, pollster and adviser to former US President Barack Obama. Mr Messina retains close links to the broader Democratic Party and Joe Biden’s administration.

His consultancy has also advised a string of companies and political parties, including the Conservatives under David Cameron ahead of the 2015 general election.

The stake sale will be seen as a step towards a possible full merger in future.

Commenting on the deal, Mr Messina said: “This is an important step in continuing to build a first-class global policy and political advisory business.

“Working alongside the GC team will allow us to offer our existing clients an even wider range of services around the world.”