Royal Mail drafts in City PR experts for privatisation process

Royal Mail has selected its agency line-up to lead the UK's most significant privatisation since the sell-off of the railways 20 years ago.

Set to collect: A public float of Royal Mail could raise £2-4bn
Set to collect: A public float of Royal Mail could raise £2-4bn

The company has called in City PR specialist Tulchan Communications to lead comms on what is likely to be one of the highest profile UK transactions in a generation.

Royal Mail’s incumbent agency Brunswick has been retained as its day-to-day corporate PR adviser and will work alongside Tulchan through the privatisation process.

Brunswick is understood to have pitched for the transaction-specific financial PR brief along with fellow City heavyweights including FTI Consulting and RLM Finsbury.

Royal Mail confirmed the appointments in a short statement sent to PRWeek. It is thought the agencies will report to Shane O’Riordain, MD, strategy and comms.

The state-owned postal operator previously announced it intended to seek private capital during 2013-14 and the appointment of a City PR adviser will be seen as a sign that the Government is keen to accelerate those plans.

Royal Mail could head to the private markets via a straight sale rather than a public float, but City commentators have suggested that a share issue is the preferred option if market conditions are amenable.

A float of the postal service would raise £2-4bn, firmly planting it in the FTSE 100.

However, the plans are likely to face significant political and union opposition. It is thought that Brunswick will advise on the regulatory and political aspects of the process, while Tulchan will concentrate on the financial side of the deal.

Royal Mail insists its ‘external capital programme’ is vital to reinvigorate the service and enable it to invest in new technology, products and businesses.

Privatisation in the UK

  • A Royal Mail float would be the largest UK privatisation since the sale of British Rail was set in motion in 1993.
  • The previous government was forced to drop plans for a part-privatisation of Royal Mail in 2009. Ex-business secratary Peter Mandelson blamed 'market conditions'.
  • Part-state owned RBS floated Direct Line last October in a £2.6bn process supported by Brunswick.

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