Weber Shandwick wins Wimpey merger brief

Construction firm George Wimpey has brought in ­Weber Shandwick to handle public affairs as it progresses a £5bn merger deal.

The homebuilder has reached for agency support amid plans to join forces with rival Taylor Woodrow. The proposed merger will create the UK's biggest construction firm, dominated by Wimpey and rebranded Taylor Wimpey.

Weber Shandwick will ­lobby the Government to pour more money into the building of more homes - espe­cially in south-east England. The agency will push the message that the UK currently needs about 200,000 new houses a year, though only about 150,000 are being built.

It will seek to ensure that Taylor Wimpey benefits from further Government activity by positioning the new firm as an innovative housing provider at the forefront of the industry and by stressing its green credentials.

Weber Shandwick has also been charged with handling national media relations and co-ordinating Wimpey's regional PR agencies.

The account is understood to be worth well over £100,000. It will be led by Joe Dixon, head of property at the agency's Manchester office, with support from Reb­ecca Paczek, head of UK property at the London off­ice. There was no incumbent, as Wimpey has previously shied away from enlisting national PR support and instead relied on regional agencies.

After the merger, Taylor Wimpey will have a total of 22,000 UK house completions a year, with 9,000 a year in the US. It will be large enough in market value to have a place on London's main FTSE 100 stock index.

Wimpey will dominate management, with CEO ­Peter Redfern retaining that post, while Taylor Woodrow chairman Norman Askew will remain in that role.

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