Cable & Wireless Seeks Agency

With its acquisition of MCI’s Internet business pending, Cable & Wireless is in the early stages of a search for an agency to handle an account related to the deal, sources said.
The U.S. division of Britain’s second-largest telco (next to British Telecom) is poised to acquire MCI’s Internet assets in a transaction valued at $2 billion.
“With the acquisition, we feel it will be important to advertise” once the deal is approved toward the end of August, said Gerda Yearwood, assistant vice president of communications and corporate affairs at the client. Vienna, Va.-based C&W does not currently have an agency.
Yearwood cautioned, however, that the company had not reached the stage of a full review, but was merely researching the agency world to gauge its options, adding that “no budget [has been] set.”
Sources, however, indicated that the client was considering earmarking more than $5 million for advertising.
Knapp Marketing Communications in Washington, D.C., is assisting C&W with the search. To date, Yearwood said, the company has looked at agencies in the Washington, Richmond, Va., and New York areas.
C&W is said to want “a decent-sized shop [where it would] not be swallowed up.”
MCI agreed to sell its Web functions to C&W as a result of WorldCom’s $37 billion acquisition of MCI. Regulators in the U.S. and Europe had expressed concerns that the WorldCom-MCI entity would control too much Internet traffic without the sale.
The pact would give C&W all of MCI’s Internet switching and routing equipment, in addition to 1,300 Web service provider customers, according to industry reports.
C&W is a minor player in the U.S.; its main customers are businesses. Overseas, however, it is a storied and significant firm. It was the company that first linked India by undersea telegraph to the rest of the world in the 1870s and is widely considered to have “wired” the British Empire.