City & Corporate: Publicis nabs Smithfield's Bastin for London office

French marcoms group Publicis is to broaden its UK footprint in financial PR barely a month after its chief executive said he wanted to buy PR firms in Europe and Asia.

Smithfield director Nick Bastin is joining Publicis Consultants London on 4 April as a director with a brief to build up financial communications.

At Smithfield, Bastin worked for retained clients Henkel, PKN ORLEN and Thus, as well as Securitas, which appointed Smithfield as its first PR adviser last year (PRWeek, 21 May 2004).

Smithfield CEO John Antcliffe said he did not expect any of the company's retained clients to leave as a result of Bastin's exit.

Bastin and Publicis Consultants London joint managing director Richard Stacy would not comment on whether Bastin would bring any of Smithfield's accounts with him.

Bastin said he had free reign to develop 20-strong Publicis Consultants London's financial comms practice, which will initially service the needs of UK-listed and European clients. Work will involve share offer marketing, M&A PR, crisis management and CSR reporting advice.

'You should not underestimate how committed Publicis is to this practice,' Bastin told PRWeek.

Stacy said he had no specific size in mind for the financial comms operation.

'We have a good opportunity to make investments where we are required to do so,' he said.

Publicis renamed Rowland Communications as Publicis Consultants London last year, making it part of Publicis Consultants' network of more than 500 staff.

While Publicis Consultants has not handled any significant financial comms work out of its London office, the firm's Paris branch is working on the privatisation of Gaz de France, which is set to float on the stock market in the next six weeks.

Earlier this month, Publicis chairman and chief executive Maurice Levy said he wanted to buy PR firms in Europe and Asia after Publicis Groupe posted a 40 per cent rise in profits to 210 million euros (£146m).

Levy said Publicis had 'the resources to go to a new level of growth'.

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