Top City PR firms compete for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca business

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has kicked off one of the biggest City PR pitches since the recession.

AstraZeneca: London HQ
AstraZeneca: London HQ

The FTSE 100 firm, one of the world’s top ten pharma players, has put retained agency Brunswick on alert as it reviews its financial comms arrangements.

Brunswick, the City’s biggest PR firm, is understood to be defending the lucrative account against other leading financial PR shops, including FD, Finsbury and Tulchan Communications.

The pitch process is expected to conclude later this month. AstraZeneca’s head of global media relations Esra Erkal-Paler confirmed that a pitch was underway and that Brunswick remained involved, but added: ‘As the process is ongoing, I’m afraid it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.’

The pitch comes at a relatively quiet time for City PR as the hoped-for flood of new London listings has barely produced a trickle.

The have been few top FTSE names instigating competitive pitches in recent times, with one City MD admitting that ‘absolutely everyone’ was going for the potentially lucrative AstraZeneca brief.

The retained account is thought to be worth a low-level six figure sum, but related project work around M&A would be worth many times that figure.

Media reports have recently speculated that the firm is eyeing up a bid for British peer Shire, and there are suggestions the company is planning acquisitions to enable it to grow in the US.

In March the firm announced that it had agreed a deal with US and UK tax authorities over its tax bill that will see AstraZeneca increase its earnings this year, after agreeing to pay $1.1bn to cover US tax over the past decade.

AstraZeneca employs more than 67,000 people across the globe. The firm made an $11bn profit in 2010.

AZ in the news

March 11 AstraZeneca agrees to pay out $1.1bn in taxes, significantly less than it had budgeted.

January 11 Reports a 2 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for 2010 to $10.98bn. Sales climb 1% to $33.3bn.

December 10 The company’s much-trumpeted blood-thinning drug Brilinta fails to win US FDA approval.

August 10 Agrees to pay $198m to US claimants in dispute over anti-psychosis drug, Seroquel.

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