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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Dec. 10, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 49 (download PDF version)


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MILITARY FOLDS 'STRATEGIC COMMS.'

The Pentagon is folding its “strategic communications” operations, the discipline aimed to streamline PR efforts which instead blurred operations traditionally associated with public affairs.

Press Secretary George Little wrote in a memo to the military's combatant commanders obtained by Foreign Policy and USA Today that over the last six years officials learned that instead of synchronizing communications SC actually added a layer of staffing and planning that “blurred the roles and functions of traditional staff elements and resulted in confusion and inefficiencies.”

Little said in the memo that strategic communications plans have been folded into public affairs and the SC term is being dropped in favor of “communication synchronization” in future publications.

The military has spent millions on PR contractors over the last decade to support “strategic communications” operations in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, often working alongside military PA officers.

USA Today reported that Army strategic communications posts increased from seven in 2006 to 38 in 2011.

“We avoid using the term SC to avoid causing confusion,” wrote Little.

GRAYLING’S DUTKO STEPS ON GAS

Grayling's Dutko lobbying unit is representing the American Gas Assn., which is pushing for increase in the use of alternative fuels in Uncle Sam's transportation fleet.

AGA contends that natural gas is a low-cost and low emissions option to gasoline and diesel, presenting an opportunity to reduce both oil imports and urban smog.

The organization of 200 local utilities (National Grid, Pacific Gas & Electric, Xcel Energy) is headed by former Oklahoma Democratic Congressman Dave McCurdy, who also did a stint as CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Grayling belongs to Huntsworth of the U.K.

INFOSYS REVIEWS PR

Infosys, a leader in India’s vibrant outsourcing sector, is winding down a review of its PR account, Sukanya Ghosh, global corporate communications leader at the Bangalore-based company, told O’Dwyer’s via an email.

“We are in the process of evaluating pitches presented by different PR agencies including our incumbent agency," she said. "We should finalize the new contract soon.”

Infosys has used The Practice as its PR firm for the past dozen years. Its contract is up at yearend.

The Wall Street Journal in 2010 tagged Infosys as “India’s most admired company.” The company is shifting its American Depositary Shares from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 12.

NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer called Infosys, a “global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing.”

U.S.-TRADED CHINESE FIRM GETS PR HELD

China's New Oriental Education and Technology Group, which is publicly traded in the U.S., is shoring up its PR defenses in the U.S. and abroad after getting tangled in reports of an SEC crackdown on Chinese auditors and an investment bank's suggestion it might be a target.

Brunswick Group's Beijing and New York offices are advising New Oriental and handling media amid the reports.

After the SEC said Dec. 3 that foreign units of five global accounting firms have been charged after refusing to cooperate with a probe into nine unnamed China-based, U.S.-traded companies, Wells Fargo said New Oriental Education, along with another U.S.-traded Chinese company, Ambow Education Holding, was at risk of delisting.

Bloomberg News reported that Wells Fargo later updated its Dec. 4 report, saying it didn't intend to imply that New Oriental was the subject of the SEC probe and was speaking generally of Chinese stocks listed in the U.S.

After its shares fell on the Wells Fargo and SEC news, New Oriental initially said on Dec. 5 its policy was not to comment on unusual market activity. But hours later the company released a statement to “clarify” that even though its auditor, Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu, was one of five charged by the SEC in its probe, New Oriental was not the client referred to in SEC proceedings.

New Oriental's ADRs, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, were up two percent in morning trading to $17.74, with a 52-week range of $9.41-$29.19.

In addition to Deloitte, the auditors targeted by the SEC include affiliates of Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as BDO China Dahua Co.

KGA WORKS CHINA LITHIUM GRAB

Chengu Tianqi, a Chinese battery maker, is working with PR counsel in Australia and Canada as it moves to outbid New Jersey-based Rockwell Holdings to acquire Australian lithium ore giant Talison.

CT said Dec. 6 it has reached a deal to acquire Talison, which is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is the world's top producer of lithium ore, for about $855M, trumping an earlier deal by Rockwood worth around $732M.

CT is working with Kreab Gavin Anderson's Toronto and Sydney offices.

Rockwood on Nov. 20 acknowledged a "competing bid" but said it had no intention of engaging in a bidding process.

Talison's board Dec. 6 threw its support behind the CT higher bid, urging shareholders to approve the deal in February.

Lithium production has surged for its use in rechargeable batteries needed for devices like mobile phones and tablets, while electric vehicles and solar technology are expected to increase demand as well.

Talison shares were trading at $7.32 on Dec. 6, surpassing its 52-week range of $2.84-$7.25.

 
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