GE Capital, the financial services arm of industrial giant General
Electric, is reviewing its European PR account.
Long-standing incumbent Hill and Knowlton has been asked to repitch for
the work, along with a shortlist understood to include Shandwick, GCI
and Countrywide Porter Novelli. H&K has held the account for seven years
with the current account team overseen by Ash Coleman-Smith, the
managing director of H&K’s corporate and consumer finance group, who
reports to UK chairman David McLaren.
H&K runs GE Capital’s UK press office, as well as handling European
business-to-business communications. The company has no financial PR
requirement in the UK, since it is listed on the New York stock
PR Week understands the remit for the tendered work will be
pan-European, covering product and consumer PR for everything from the
company’s in-store credit card division to its insurance and banking
Valerie Di Maria, GE Capital’s Stamford, Connecticut-based
vice-president for PR and advertising, stressed that H&K was still the
company’s ’lead agency’ in the US, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Di
Maria plans to come to the UK in the next two months to stage the pitch
H&K also works for some of GE Capital’s 28 individual business units on
a project basis. These associations are not under review. The company
maintains no in-house PR function within the UK, so H&K has until now
been reporting to Di Maria in the US.
GE Capital is the most profitable aspect of General Electric’s portfolio
of businesses. The company announced in January that annual profits had
exceeded pounds 6 billion for the first time.
The company is responsible for over half of General Electric’s total
profits and 40 per cent of its sales. GE Capital employs more than
80,000 staff worldwide.