Nortel Networks readies review of global roster

Canadian tech firm Nortel Networks is reviewing its global PR business - worth more than £1m - setting alarm-bells ringing at agencies such as EMEA incumbent Pleon.

Nortel head of PR Ben Roome said incumbents, including Pleon, would ‘probably’ be invited to repitch. He added Nortel was considering ‘pooling resources into one global supplier for PR’, and weighing up the benefits of solely employing agencies drawn from one global group, such as WPP or Omnicom.

‘We review fairly regular-ly at Nortel, but this time it comes as part of larger ongoing supplier review to ensure we have the best support globally,’ Roome said. He added that global ad agency McCann Erickson – whose parent company is Inter­public Group – would not be reviewed.

Nortel has failed to make a profit since 1998, and in 2005 lost $2.5bn (£1.3bn), following two costly class-action lawsuits.

Shareholders and analysts have expressed concern that while many of Nortel’s competitors and customers have been merging, Nortel lacks the weight to succeed without selling to, or joining forces with, another company.

CEO Mike Zafirovski said at last year’s AGM in July that he did not want to merge ‘from a position of weakness’, and announced that the company was aggressively reducing costs.

Pleon was awarded the EMEA work in the summer of 2004 – when it was called Brodeur Worldwide – taking over from Ogilvy PR after a nine-way pitch (PRWeek, 24 July 2004).

Pleon – which is Omnicom-owned – said it wanted to  repitch. Technology director Nick Morris leads its Nortel account. He joined from Bite Communications last year (PRWeek, 23 June 2006).

Other incumbents include Huntsworth’s MMD in eastern Europe, Pleon-owned Spot On Public Relations in the Middle East, and Massachusetts-based Lois Paul & Partners, a subsidiary of Omnicom’s Fleishman-Hillard, in North America.

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