International News: GE Capital embarks on review of European PR, asks H&K to repitch

LONDON: GE Capital, the financial services arm of global behemoth General Electric, is reviewing its European PR - a move that could leave long-standing incumbent Hill & Knowlton out in the cold.

LONDON: GE Capital, the financial services arm of global behemoth General Electric, is reviewing its European PR - a move that could leave long-standing incumbent Hill & Knowlton out in the cold.

LONDON: GE Capital, the financial services arm of global behemoth

General Electric, is reviewing its European PR - a move that could leave

long-standing incumbent Hill & Knowlton out in the cold.



H&K has been asked to repitch for the business and will compete against

a shortlist of firms said to include Shandwick, GCI Group and

Countrywide Porter Novelli.



H&K has held the account for seven years. The current account team is

headed by corporate and consumer finance group MD Ash Coleman-Smith, who

reports to UK chairman David McLaren.



GE Capital’s PR account will be expanded somewhat from H&K’s current

charge (the firm currently runs the company’s UK press office and

handles European business-to-business communications). The account will

now be pan-European, covering product and consumer PR for everything

from the company’s in-store credit card division to its insurance and

banking subsidiaries.



Valerie Di Maria, GE Capital’s Stamford, CT-based VP of PR and

advertising, stressed that H&K was still the company’s lead agency in

the US, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. Di Maria plans to

come to the UK in the next two months to direct the pitch process.



H&K also works for some of GE Capital’s 28 individual business units on

a project basis. These associations, however, are not under review.



Since GE Capital maintains no in-house PR staffers in the UK, H&K has

until now been reporting directly to Di Maria in the US.



GE Capital is the most profitable performer in General Electric’s

portfolio of businesses. The financial subsidiary, which announced in

January that annual profits had exceeded dollars 9 billion for the first

time, is responsible for over half of General Electric’s total profits

and 40% of its sales.



GE Capital employs more than 80,000 staffers worldwide.



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