City & Corporate: Prudential boosts comms with senior appointments

Prudential is bolstering its communications team as the insurance giant mounts a reputation fight-back in the City.

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK head of media relations Jon Bunn is expected to join Prudential as director of public relations before July.

James Matthews, who was head of IR at Prudential rival Aviva until March this year, will become Prudential director of IR from next month.

The move follows the reorganisation of Prudential's PR division at the end of last year, which saw the ousting of director of corporate relations Geraldine Davies and the promotion of IR director Rebecca Burrows to group comms director.

Prudential's 24-strong corporate relations division was reorganised into the now 30-strong group comms division. The restructure brought internal communications and IR directly under Burrows' control.

Prudential head of media relations Clare Staley said Bunn, who joined PwC in 1999 and was previously news editor of Accountancy Age, would 'take a strategic look at PR and media relations'.

'We are looking for a more co-ordinated approach across all our audiences,' Staley told PRWeek. 'We learned from experience last year that when we thought we had the right comms strategy to communicate with different people, they weren't hearing what we had said.'

Former CEO Jonathan Bloomer instigated the revamp of Prudential's comms following the City's poor reception of the company's £1bn rights issue last October.

But shareholders ousted Bloomer this March despite a subsequent 30 per cent jump in Prudential operating profit to £1.1bn for 2004. Bloomer was replaced by HBOS finance director Mark Tucker.

Matthews' departure from Aviva preceded that of his boss, IR director Steve Riley, who joined Prudential-backed Resolution Life in a similar position (PRWeek, 29 April).

The departures have left Aviva, which owns the Norwich Union brand, without a senior-level IRO.

IR is being covered by Aviva IR executive Nicole Marques, financial reporting director Siobhan Boylan and group financial control director Nic Androw until replacements for Riley and Matthews are found.

PWC said it would appoint a replacement for Bunn.

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