NEWS: BT rival Ionica hires Finsbury to handle UK launch

Financial PR specialist Finsbury has been appointed to handle the national roll-out of new BT competitor Ionica.

Financial PR specialist Finsbury has been appointed to handle the

national roll-out of new BT competitor Ionica.



The move comes hard on the heels of the appointment of Ian Morris,

formerly head of communications at Bass Brewers, to the post of head of

external affairs at Ionica (PR Week, 11 October). He begins work in

December.



Finsbury was taken on without a pitch, having been personally

recommended by Ionica’s investment banker, SBC Warburg. The contract is

open-ended and will initially involve raising Ionica’s profile in the

City, mainly via the business pages of the national press. Ionica has no

immediate plans to appoint a separate consumer PR agency.



Recently valued at over pounds 500 million, Ionica plans to be

positioned as the first real national rival to BT.



It claims its equipment is relatively cheap and easy to install compared

with traditional wires or cables and that its call charges will be

pitched 15-20 per cent below those of BT.



Roland Rudd, a director of Finsbury, says Ionica only needs to capture

two per cent of the UK telecoms market to be ‘extremely profitable’. A

public flotation ‘is clearly an option’, although there are no plans at

the moment, he added.



Nigel Playford, founder and chief executive of Ionica, said public

relations would be a major plank of his marketing strategy, however, he

refused to disclose any budget figures. Finsbury’s main attraction was

its director, Rudd, who, says Playford, was ‘very straight down-the-

line’.



Finsbury clients include Kingfisher, Williams Holdings and East Midlands

Electricity.



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