The high-street bank has invited a handful of agencies to pitch but has yet to speak to any of them. It is thought to be some way off drawing up a shortlist.
HSBC head of media relations Richard Lindsay confirmed the account was being put out to tender after years of working 'very happily' with Bell Pottinger. He added that it was company policy 'to review these accounts from time to time'.
Bell Pottinger will be keen to hang on to the business after losing a number of significant accounts this year.
Last week, McDonald's shifted its public affairs account from Bell Pottinger to Portland PR (PRWeek, 6 June). The previous week it emerged that eBay had dropped Bell Pottinger Public Affairs as its retained UK corporate agency, replacing it with rival firm Blue Rubicon (PRWeek, 30 May).
Earlier this year, Asda moved a major chunk of its public affairs business from Bell Pottinger to The Ledbury Group (PRWeek, 28 March), although the supermarket's property team still retains Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.
HSBC is stepping up its efforts to be seen as one of the world's greenest businesses. It has committed to becoming carbon neutral and last year set up the HSBC Climate Partnership to tackle climate change. The bank has appointed public affairs and corporate comms agency Open Road to build support for its corporate responsibility initiatives in the UK (PRWeek, 21 June 2007).
HSBC's UK public affairs operation is overseen by the bank's UK head of comms and government relations Martin Lord. Its government relations manager is Miles Celic, previously a consultant at Fishburn-Hedges' public affairs practice until he quit the agency last year (PRWeek, 7 February 2007).