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WPP pulls out of £200m pan-European France Telecom contest

LONDON - WPP Group has pulled out of the pan-European France Telecom ad review, worth over £200m and including the Orange and Wanadoo accounts, sending its share down 5p lastnight.

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The WPP pitch team included the UK, France and Spain offices of United, formerly known as Red Cell, along with Young & Rubicam Europe.

They were up against Omnicom's TBWA\Worldwide and DDB, as well as Mother, which holds the account for Orange in the UK.

It is believed that one of the reasons behind WPP's decision to pull out was France Telecom's growing definition of what it considered to be a client conflict, which could have included BSkyB, a client of United.

WPP shares fell 5p or 0.8% to 620p, although they were up 1p in early trading this morning to 621p.

The review was revealed at the very end of 2005, sending agencies into a frenzy to compete in what was being described as the pitch of the year. France Telecom has take the decision so that it can establish Orange as its global consumer brand.

Although Mother has no European network, it is believed that if it is successful its ideas could be used across European markets. A decision is likely to be made towards the end of February.

One casualty has been M&C Saatchi, which has lost the £16m Wanadoo account as part of the process.

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