National Grid hunts for PA firm amid growth plans

National Grid has issued a tender for international public affairs support as the energy transmitter steps up its expansion programme.

The company is understood to have approached around six agencies to submit proposals for a two-year contract to provide 'strategic advice' and 'political intelligence' in the UK and the EU, with additional understanding required of US markets.

The review comes as National Grid this week announced that its chief executive Roger Unwin is to retire later this year. He will be replaced by Steve Holliday, currently the group's director of UK gas distribution, who hinted that further US expansion would be high on his list of priorities. The US market now accounts for over 40 per cent of the group's operations.

National Grid is the sole owner and operator of the electricity transmission system in England and Wales and operates the UK natural gas transmission system. It has also recently acquired a mast business that promises to make it a significant player in the development of 3G networks for mobile phones.

The company declined to comment on the review.

However, UK media relations manager Chris Mostyn said it had lined up a separate 'preferred list of suppliers' in the UK to provide PR and community relations support.

It awarded three-year contracts in January to Bristol-based JBP Associates, Loughborough's Broad Communications, Leeds-based Lynx PR and 3G Communications in London.

'We are facing an increase in our capital investment programme for both our gas and electricity networks across Britain. Our community relations work is growing as a result,' said Mostyn.

The company rebranded in October, dropping Transco from its name. The name National Grid Transco was adopted in 2002 after the merger between National Grid and Lattice Group, the gas pipeline business spun off from British Gas.

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