PR team stays to manage frenzy

Lehman Brothers' UK comms team this week remained in place, despite the bank filing for bankruptcy protection in the US and most of its UK staff packing their bags.

Lehman: comms team stays despite departures
Lehman: comms team stays despite departures

As PRWeek went to press, the firm’s four-strong comms team remained at its Canary Wharf HQ to manage the media frenzy.

‘The main focus is to manage an orderly wind-down and preserve those divisions with a market value that can be sold as a going concern,’ said current head of the European comms team Patrick Meyer.

However, Lehman Brothers’ comms team has seen one high-profile departure. Global co-head of corporate communications and former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers quit late last week, at a time when many market observers still expected a rival to put together a package to rescue the bank.
Gowers told PRWeek that he was currently ‘looking at other opportunities’ and is believed to already have his next role lined up.

The bank’s collapse has also reverberated through the agency world. Maitland has lost the six-figure retained account it won late last year from Brunswick, but remains onboard temporarily to help manage media PR. ‘We continue to work with them and stand by them through these difficult times as we would with any client,’ said David Waller, partner at Maitland.

Meanwhile, major agencies including Finsbury and FD have already been in touch with Lehman’s comms team and headhunters are believed to be circling senior members of the team.

The idea that Lehman comms staff might be tainted by association with failing banks was dismissed by senior agency executives. ‘Those in comms at investment banks see more challenging and exciting things in an average day that most corporate comms professionals see in their entire career,’ said one. ‘These people command a certain premium and will find jobs with little difficulty.’

Meanwhile, cost savings are inevitable at Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that is in the process of being bought by the Bank of America. According to insiders, these could impact on the bank’s seven-strong London comms team.

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