The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has put out an 'invitation to tender' calling for financial comms advice for the Shareholder Executive ahead of the planned Royal Mail sell-off.
The Shareholder Executive was established in 2003 to improve the performance of the Government as a shareholder. The body's remit covers 28 businesses, including the Government's shareholding in Royal Mail.
The brief calls for an agency to support the body 'in the preparation for a successful sale of Royal Mail, which secures the best deal for the company and for taxpayers'.
The document adds that the successful agency will 'provide strategic advice on media, stakeholder and potential investor handling before the sale process is launched'.
A Department for Business, Innovation & Skills spokesman claimed: 'It makes clear commercial sense to get this additional support on board at an early stage. It will help us secure the right deal for the taxpayer and is common practice for a sale like this.'
The process comes after the Postal Services Act 2011 was passed in June, lifting restrictions on the ownership of Royal Mail and giving the green light for the sale of up to 90 per cent of the company.
The PR contract will run for an initial nine-month period, with the sale expected to conclude this month.
The brief has been circulated to financial comms specialists, but some City PR sources raised eyebrows over the proposed fees of just £30-40,000.
One senior City PR source argued that the high-profile nature of Royal Mail's future meant that the brief would require a significant amount of work and resource, which is not reflected in the size of the fee.
Earlier this month Royal Mail announced it was in 'significant financial difficulty' after seeing profits slump by 80 per cent as the company plugged holes in its pension funds and postal volumes continued to decrease.