H&K out as British Energy hires BP-PA

Debt-embattled nuclear provider British Energy has appointed Bell Pottinger Public Affairs to its PA account without a pitch, ending Hill & Knowlton’s 14-year hold on the remit.

‘Bell Pottinger has a dedicated in-house resource in Scotland, plus I wanted to bring fresh ideas to the account,’ explained British Energy head of external affairs Carl Gibson. The company is in the process of shifting its corporate HQ from Glasgow to Livingston.

Issues BP-PA will lobby on in Westminster include minimising its business rates and putting the case for it to stop paying the Climate Change Levy, which the company holds is unfair since nuclear energy has low carbon levels.

BP-PA director Neil Stockley heads the account.

British Energy is one of the UK’s largest electricity generators, producing about 20 per cent of the country’s power through its eight nuclear facilities.

The European Commission decides this summer whether the £5bn Government-backed rescue package for British Energy breaches its rules on illegal state aid. The DTI is negotiating with the EU on the company’s behalf to advance the case that its aid was legal.

British Energy made a £12m operating profit for the final quarter of 2003. It has paid around £75m to advisers on its restructuring.

Gibson joined British Energy at the end of November from Energis, where he was director of regulatory affairs (PRWeek, 17 October 2003) and used BP-PA as its retained agency.

H&K’s 14-year reign includes handling PA for the compnay in its former guise as Nuclear Electric in England and Wales.

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