Enron axes PR firms and staff outside US

Bankrupt energy trader Enron has laid off the bulk of its UK comms

staff, leaving just one PRO manning the press office for its European

HQ.



The group's former 15-strong PR team - which covered Europe, the Middle

East, Japan and Australia - has been slashed to leave just the

vice-president of PR and communications Jackie Gentle heading all PR

across the region.



Enron confirmed the lay-offs following news that the group was put into

administration last Friday.



The PR job losses form part of the 1,100 announced redundancies

throughout Enron Europe, with another 3,000 being made in the US.



Enron's Houston-based corporate PR chief Mark Palmer was unavailable for

comment as PRWeek went to press, but it is expected there will be a

large number of jobs lost in the group's US communications

department.



Brunswick's New York office is handling the bulk of Enron's US crisis

comms work with help from IR company Kekst & Company. Brunswick was

originally taken on two weeks ago for PR surrounding Enron's ill-fated

deal with Dynegy, which has turned into a high-profile legal

squabble.



The agency's brief has since evolved into full-blown crisis comms.



Enron has axed all its external PR agencies in the UK, Europe, Japan and

Australia.



Those agencies affected include financial PR firm Smithfield Financial

and Gentle Persuasion - Gentle's former firm - in the UK - alongside a

number of regionally-retained consultancies, such as Cohn & Wolfe in

Germany and Burson-Marsteller in Spain.



Smithfield, however, confirmed it continues to handle PR for Bath-based

Wessex Water - the largest subsidiary of Enron's part-owned Azurix

subsidiary - and is helping to reassure customers and investors that the

water group is not affected by Enron's decision to file for bankruptcy.



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