Brunswick takes over World Online account

World Online, the Dutch internet service provider which has been devalued by nearly two-thirds since its IPO in March, has appointed Brunswick as its financial PR agency. Previously, financial PR was handled by Citigate Dewe Rogerson.

World Online, the Dutch internet service provider which has been

devalued by nearly two-thirds since its IPO in March, has appointed

Brunswick as its financial PR agency. Previously, financial PR was

handled by Citigate Dewe Rogerson.



No pitch is believed to have taken place. The European head of

communications at Goldman Sachs, Lucas Van Praag, who joined the firm

from Brunswick in January, is thought to have managed the appointment of

his former agency to the account. The investment bank led the World

Online offering.



Cary Martin, deputy chairman of Citigate Dewe Rogerson, claimed there

would have been a conflict with other clients (T-Online and Free-serve)

if work had continued. According to Martin, Citigate had received

special permission from these clients to handle the IPO.



He said: ’We were hired to cover the IPO work, and had a contract until

the end of the stabilisation period.’ He added that Citigate was still

dealing with press enquiries in the transitional period, until in-house

staff or another agency was appointed. The appointment was confirmed by

World Online’s chief executive Simon Duffy.



World Online has barely been out of the European media following

revelations that Nina Brink, its founder and chairman had sold the bulk

of her holding in the company last December - three months before World

Online’s IPO. She resigned as chairman last week.



Subsequently, the Dutch shareholders association (VEB) has launched a

claim for compensation against World Online, Goldman Sachs and the joint

global co-ordinator ABN Amro Rothschild, for lost funds. Shares were

initially offered at over pounds 26 each, but this week were valued at

under pounds 10.



The debacle has been described as ’a textbook example of how not to

handle an IPO’.



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