Anschutz splits with Freud’s

Freud Communications has dramatically ended its relationship with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), controversial owner of The O2, after five years.

The split comes months ­after AEG failed in its quest to run the UK’s first super-casino at The O2, previously known as the Millennium Dome.

It has now taken its comms in-house, appointing former Financial Times PR manager Lucy Ellison to a newly created head of PR role.

Ellison said: ‘Freud’s did a great job doing a lot of the groundwork, but now we are about to open we don’t need a big, retained agency so have moved the work in-house.’

Freud’s relationship with AEG made headlines when it emerged that chairman Matthew Freud had hosted AEG boss Philip Anschutz and culture secretary Tessa Jowell at the same dinner.

Anschutz also caused a furore when it was reveal­ed that he had hosted deputy prime minister John Prescott at his ranch in Colorado, and had offered him gifts including a stetson hat.

When Manchester won the recommendation for the casino, some commentators suggested that the controversy surrounding Greenwich’s unsuccessful bid – and the potential for sleaze allegations – could be to blame. It was also suggested that many Labour MPs would have been ‘relieved’ at the announcement.

Freud Communications began working with AEG in 2002. The agency has always maintained that the ­account was mainly a consumer brief and that it did not do public affairs work for AEG.

However, the company did receive high-level strategic counsel from Matthew Freud.

Freud’s director Patrick Keegan said the end of the relationship was not connected with the casino ­recommendation.

Ellison started her career at the Financial Times in 2002 and she was later identified as one of PRWeek’s 29 best PR professionals under the age of 29 (PRWeek, 30 June 2006).

FT global comms director Emma Gilpin-Jacobs is recruit­ing a replacement.

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