Beck lands Marconi senior comms post

LONDON - Troubled telecoms equipment maker Marconi took steps to salvage its battered public image this week with the appointment of David Beck to its top comms post.

Beck, currently on notice as MD of Bell Pottinger's financial PR operation, will join the former industrial behemoth in the next three months, when a succession plan can be worked out at the Chime-owned city PR firm.

He moves into the full-time comms director role after three months heading the Marconi account team for Bell Pottinger, the agency drafted in last autumn in place of incumbent Brunswick (PRWeek, 12 October 2001).

The firm was hired as part of a review that saw fresh bankers appointed shortly after CEO Mike Parton took control. A new chairman, Derek Bonham, was appointed at the same time.

Parton, formerly a Marconi board director, replaced Lord Simpson as CEO after he was forced to quit following the disastrous attempt to reinvent what was once the pride of British manufacturing into a tech-savvy modern firm.

This strategy left Marconi without its cash cow arms business -- which it sold off -- but with a raft of unprofitable acquisitions, bought at the

top of the market in 1999, that

left the company almost crippled with debt.

Beck will report to Parton, and will take control of a staff of more than 30. His remit includes overseeing the press office, external affairs, internal comms, public affairs and financial PR. The financial function retains control of IR -- a crucial discipline given the decline in Marconi's share price over the past year.

Marconi has been without a top-level in-house communicator since early last year when Charlie Foreman moved out of PR into a wider sales role. He has since left the company, leaving former Xerox EMEA PR chief Joe Kelly as head of media relations.

Beck, who has been at Bell Pottinger or one of its predecessor firms for more than

15 years, said: 'This is a broader role than I've filled to date. The scale of the challenge is not in doubt. The task is nothing less than to rebuild the company's credibility.'

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