INTERNATIONAL NEWS: WSW leaves home base for Sydney

Melbourne, Australia: Weber Shandwick Worldwide will wind down its

Melbourne operations by the end of the year, according to an internal

announcement made last week.

Thirty-six staffers face layoffs as the agency works to transfer

international clients to Sydney, with the majority of local business

expected to migrate to other Melbourne firms.

WSW Asia-Pacific CEO Alison Clarke said the decision was based on the

economic climate and a change in the company's Australian strategy.

"We had our focal point in the wrong city. The bulk of international

clients, when they land in Australia, land in Sydney," said Clarke.

German telecom client Siemens will transfer its account with the

consultancy from Melbourne to Sydney, where Nestle and Sony PlayStation

are major clients.

Clarke estimated the Sydney office would have a fee income of $4

million at the start of next year with the consolidated business.

Melbourne managing director Steven Kerr is in negotiations and

considering "a number of options," according to Clarke.

WSW is the fifth-largest international agency in Australia, with income

of $4.8 million from both offices last year. Overall PR income

dropped by 11% in Australia between 1999 and 2000.

The closure follows several reported cuts among international

consultancies in the country, including Australia's third-largest

international agency, Burson-Marsteller.

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