Smithfield picked to support inquiry into banks merger

The Competition Commission (CC) has drafted in PR consultancy

Smithfield Financial to provide PR support for its inquiry into the

controversial proposed merger between Lloyds TSB and Abbey National.



Smithfield, headed by chairman John Antcliffe, is working on a UK

project brief to raise awareness of the body's inquiry and the

merger.



CC is holding a public hearing into Lloyd's pounds 18bn bid for Abbey

National today (Friday, 30 March) - its first ever open meeting into a

commercial merger.



Part of Smithfield's remit, handed to the agency earlier this month, has

been to drum up publicity for the meeting.



CC press officer Francis Royle said: 'The brief is to make as many

people as possible aware of the merger and the open meeting and to help

us communicate with the public and parts of the media who may not know

what we do so everyone understands the process.



'There are a large number of private shareholders in the general public

who are involved in the proposed merger, so we want to reach them and

hear their views,' he added.



Smithfield worked with CC on PR for its first-ever open meeting, held as

part of the new cars inquiry in June 1999, and its transparency review

in 1998.



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