Direct Line Group hires Brunswick to lead RBS spin-off

Direct Line Group has selected Brunswick Group to lead its multi-billion-pound spin-off from RBS.

Direct Line: Brunswick will handle the insurance firm's corporate and financial comms
Direct Line: Brunswick will handle the insurance firm's corporate and financial comms
The owner of insurance brands Direct Line, Churchill and Green Flag is under orders from EU regulators to sell or float the unit by 2013 and has charged Brunswick with managing comms through this process.

RBS’ insurance division could be valued at as much as £4bn and would immediately enter the FTSE 100 if a new listing takes place.

Brunswick will handle Direct Line’s corporate and financial comms, as well as benefit from the lucrative project brief when RBS pushes through with the float or sale.

Finsbury is RBS’ City agency of record and is believed to have been involved in the competitive pitch for the Direct Line brief. The group is understood to have whittled the large number of City agencies with whom it spoke down to a two-way shortlist of Brunswick and Pelham Bell Pottinger.

It is also thought that Direct Line was specifically seeking a City agency with deep experience of capital markets transactions.

Brunswick confirmed its appointment in as Direct Line Group’s retained corporate and financial comms agency ‘as it works towards its divestiture from RBS Group’.

The team will be run by Justine McIlroy alongside Tom Burns and Robin Wrench, all partners, who will report to Rob Bailhache, director of comms at Direct Line Group. Bailhache, formerly of HSBC and FTI Consulting, agreed to join RBS' insurance arm late last year.

The nature of RBS’ eventual divestment of its insurance division remains unknown, but it is thought that a London listing remains the preferred option. Brunswick also worked on the most notable global float in recent years, Facebook’s $104bn (£65.8bn) Nasdaq IPO in May.

In October 2009, the EU took the decision to force RBS to sell off the insurance group as a result of its £45bn taxpayer bailout it signed up to in 2008.

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