FD scoops UK comms account for investment giant BlackRock

The world's largest asset manager has shifted its UK financial and corporate comms account after a shoot-out between two of the City's biggest financial PR shops.

HQ: BlackRock's London base
HQ: BlackRock's London base

The US investment giant has moved its retained financial PR and corporate media relations brief from incumbent Maitland to FD after a pitch thought to have involved as many as 12 agencies.

The final round is believed to have come down to a two-way fight between Maitland and FD – both of which had existing relationships with the firm.

BlackRock bought Barclays Global Investors (BGI) in a £8.2bn deal in December 2009 with the two City agencies on either side of the deal. BlackRock had a long retained relationship with Maitland, while FD continued to work on the BGI side of the business after BlackRock took control.

FD will handle comms across BlackRock’s whole product portfolio in the UK with a brief centred on corporate positioning and corporate media relations to boost the firm’s presence as a leading industry voice.

Industry insiders noted that the account was one of the biggest retained financial PR pitches of the year and put the value of the work at a minimum of £250,000 a year.

Both FD and BlackRock dec­lined to confirm or comment on the appointment. FD will report to Emma Phillips, director of the EMEA

media relations team. Rebecca Nelson, a director in the EMEA media team who previously handled comms for BGI, is understood to have resigned over the summer.

The move coincides with changes at the top of Maitland, with Neil Bennett promoted to chief executive in October, replacing Philip Gawith.

Similarly, FD is undergoing a change of leadership, with CEO Charles Watson becoming FD’s global chairman early next year and a replacement actively being sought.

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