LLM loses United Utilities account to its rival F-H

United Utilities has switched its public affairs account from FD-LLM to Fleishman-Hillard.

The water and electricity group has been using FD-LLM since 2005 but moved the account following a competitive pitch. It is understood F-H faced FD-LLM and one other agency in a three-way shoot-out for the business.

The loss of the United Utilities account is a fresh blow for FD-LLM following a glut of departures among its senior staff this year. In the past few months, co-founder Jon Mendelsohn, MD Craig Leviton and senior vice-president Ben Abbotts have all left the firm.

United Utilities head of government affairs Will Parkes took the decision to review the account shortly after joining from Transport for London earlier this year (PRWeek, 23 March). The review was part of a wider restructure of the company’s public affairs function.

United Utilities operates mainly in the North West, employs around 17,000 staff and has about three million customers.

F-H will be tasked with lobbying Ofwat ahead of the 2009 price review in which the water regulator will set prices for 2010-15. The agency will also stress the firm’s environmental credentials to MPs and officials.

Parkes said: ‘This is a very interesting time for the sector and issues such as climate change, flooding and the 2009 price review are high on our agenda with key stakeholders, both nationally and in the North West.’

He added that F-H would work closely with United Utilities’ three-strong in-house team. The water and electricity group recently brought in two new public affairs managers to assist Parkes. Former British Nucl­ear Fuels lobbyist Peter Osborne and former United Utilities press officer Mark Donaghy replaced Ian Latta and Paula Wright, who left to set up their own North West-focused lobbying firm (PRWeek, 10 August).

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