NEWS: Shandwick lands British Gas brief

British Gas has handed Shandwick Consultants an estimated pounds 2 million-fee assignment to advise on its demerger.

British Gas has handed Shandwick Consultants an estimated pounds 2

million-fee assignment to advise on its demerger.

Shandwick was signed up this week after pitching against Dewe Rogerson

and Brunswick to a panel of top BG executives that included John Wybrew,

BG’s new board director for strategic planning, corporate affairs and

group marketing, to whom the agency will report.

The agency is putting a team of 20 people on the business, led by

director James Poole.

Shandwick joins a list of PR advisers which includes City and corporate

specialist Angus Maitland - accused by the Independent in December of

attempting to discredit Ofgas director general Clare Spottiswoode by

distributing ‘briefing notes’ - and BG property services’ retained PR

agency Luther Pendragon.

The appointment coincides with an overhaul of BG’s PR machine, resulting

in the ending of its pounds 200,000 contract with Sir Tim Bell’s Lowe

Bell Consultants and its decision not to renew its contract with

lobbyist Ian Greer Associates. It continues to use Lowe Bell Political

along with the Public Policy Unit for public affairs.

‘The work is no longer necessary,’ Bell told PR Week, adding: ‘We

continue to help them on the political front and hope the relationship

will grow following the demerger’.

A key part of Shandwick’s brief is to help BG win the approval of

shareholders for demerger in the spring of 1997. Shandwick Consultants

chief executive Chris Matthews stressed the company was keen to target

not just the institutional investors but to ‘take its private

shareholders, customers and staff with it’.

A BG spokesman said financial communications for the demerger project

would ‘touch on all issues that are of interest to BG stakeholders’.

Announced in February, the demerger will see BG split into two

separately quoted companies: British Gas Energy and TransCo, and is

understood to have spelled the end of BG’s ‘number 12’ or crisis-

management committee of senior PR executives on which Lowe Bell

Consultants advised.

* Mark Pendlington, BG’s head of parliamentary affairs, is taking

voluntary redundancy. Pendlington will leave at the end of April after

three years with the company.

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