Five-way battle as EDF consolidates corporate and public affairs briefs

EDF Energy is sizing up long-time incumbents Brunswick and MHP, as well as three other agencies as it looks to consolidate two lucrative briefs into a single account, PRWeek has learned.

Hanover, Portland and Teneo Blue Rubicon are also understood to be in the running for the new brief with the French-owned business, which supplies electricity and gas to around five million British homes and businesses.

MHP and predecessor firms have held the EDF public affairs account since at least 2007, prior to its creation by merger in 2010. The agency brought in former energy secretary Ed Davey as an adviser in early 2016.

Brunswick has held its corporate media relations brief for 10 years. It also advised EDF's parent company Electricité de France on European M&A activity in 2001, at the time the company was ramping up its UK activities.

The decision to combine them follows an internal reorganisation, with the two disciplines now falling under a single in-house external comms team, PRWeek understands.

The firm is believed to have begun a similar process last year, in line with its commitment to undertake agency reviews every three years. A source said this had been postponed, as the company spent much of 2016 dealing with uncertainty over its plans to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point.

On 30 March 2016, EDF released a statement in response to reported delays in the Hinkley Point timetable, saying it had been subject to an "anonymous press campaign" that it said was "seriously harmful to our interests as well as the interests of the industry and to jobs in France and Europe".

EDF declined to comment.

The firm's head of external comms Tim McCoy joined the company in 2011 from Starbucks, prior to which he worked agency-side at Blue Rubicon, having previously been a journalist and produder at the BBC. Director of strategy and corporate affairs Paul Spence has been in his role for more than five years, and with the firm's predecessor British Energy since 2003.

Earlier this month, PRWeek reported that the National Grid had replaced Brunswick with Teneo Blue Rubicon as its financial PR agency, as part of an expanded brief.

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