Hill and Knowlton is the PR agency behind Swedish company OM Group's pounds 900 million hostile takeover bid for the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
The bid was launched last week, and has the potential to wreck the LSE's planned merger with the Frankfurt-based Deutsche Borse, to form iX. This was reported to be 'on hold' as PR Week went to press, however, a spokesman said the LSE 'remained committed to Deutsche Borse'.
H&K was hired only two weeks before the bid was announced to the press.
It won the account without pitch, having handled the launch of Jiway, OM's integrated stock exchange joint venture with Morgan Stanley.
With rival LSE bidders threatening to enter the fray, plus the LSE and Deutsche Borse negotiating with NASDAQ in an attempt to keep the iX plan afloat, the battle will be intense.
The appointment of H&K means that one of London's newest financial PR offerings will be battling against one of the City's most established - Brunswick has been retained by the LSE for the duration of the iX merger period.
Hill and Knowlton has just formally announced the creation of new practice group Hill and Knowlton Financial, headed by board director Anthony Payne, a veteran of Burson-Marsteller and Shandwick who joined H&K in November 1999.
As well as handling the Jiway launch and OM's LSE bid, the division has worked on Holderbank's hostile bid for Portugal's Cimpor.
In this battle, the agency also came up against Brunswick, but with the Portuguese government intervening, no clear 'winner' has emerged yet.
OM originally began as a computerised options market (hence OM), but 13 years later the company had bought the Swedish stock exchange.