NEWS: Lowe Bell wins five-way Friends Provident pitch

Friends Provident, the mutual life insurer, has plumped for Lowe Bell Communications as its retained PR agency.

Friends Provident, the mutual life insurer, has plumped for Lowe Bell

Communications as its retained PR agency.



The appointment, announced last week, ends a month-long search during

which the company saw presentations from five City PR firms (PR Week, 19

April).



Corporate communications manager Brian Wilkinson said Lowe Bell had been

picked because of the range of services it could offer.



He declined to reveal which other consultancies had been approached,

although Financial Dynamics and Citigate are believed to have been among

them. Industry sources say the account could be worth up to pounds

100,000 a year in fees.



Wilkinson explained that Lowe Bell would provide a full PR service,

including product promotion, corporate positioning and City

communications advice. He denied that the agency had been specifically

hired to tackle growing speculation that Friends Provident is close to a

deal with another insurance firm.



‘Our eye is on building the business and we felt that now was the time

to enlist external support to do that,’ he said.



With two million policyholders and pounds 15 billion under management,

Friends Provident has long been tipped as a likely takeover target. Sun

Alliance, Abbey National and Prudential have all been cited as possible

suitors.



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