Brunswick launches inquiry into loss of files

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The Independent Online

Brunswick, one of the City's best-known public relations firms, has initiated an internal inquiry to discover how a confidential document, detailing the code names and contact numbers for projects it was working on, fell into the hands of a national newspaper.

Brunswick, one of the City's best-known public relations firms, has initiated an internal inquiry to discover how a confidential document, detailing the code names and contact numbers for projects it was working on, fell into the hands of a national newspaper.

Brunswick was left red faced after the paper reported that it had seen part of a dossier of information, which had been circulating around the Square Mile. The file, said to have been left in a restaurant in Covent Garden, revealed the secret code names of a large number of mergers, acquisitions and flotations. It also contained the names of corporate financiers, lawyers and other advisers.

A spokesman for Brunswick said: "We take any breach of our security very seriously," but he added: "From the information published ... it is clear to us that no price-sensitive information could have possibly been leaked ahead of an announcement."

It emerged yesterday afternoon that the leaked document was a distribution list for press cuttings. Of the seven deals involved, four have already been announced. The rest, which are still under discussion, related to private companies.

The chairman a rival PR firm said he would not be celebrating Brunswick's problem: "This is not very good. It gives us all a bad name."

He suggested that Brunswick could have been the victim of its own rapid growth: "The problem they have got is that with 275 people, you don't know who is working there."

Meanwhile, at least one of Brunswick's top clients remained loyal to its chosen spin-doctor. A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer said: "We've had Brunswick advise us for two years, and there's absolutely no evidence to suggest that they have dealt unprofessionally with any information we have given them."

Although the episode will be seen as a major embarrassment for Brunswick and its founder, Alan Parker, the firm is unlikely to face any formal reprimand from City regulators. The Financial Services Authority has no formal jurisdiction over PR firms. It is understood that the watchdog has made discreet inquiries and has satisfied itself that no shareholders have been disadvantaged by the leak.

The deals mentioned in the stray document are: the takeover of De Beers, the diamond giant; Robert Breare's abortive bid for Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries; and the bid by Tetra, the Swedish packaging group, to acquire France's Sidel.

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