LONDON—Abbott Laboratories has selected Weber Shandwick to handle corporate PR and public affairs across Europe and Asia following a competitive review. 

The Holmes Report understands that Weber Shandwick prevailed following a pitch that began earlier this year, and is currently negotiating fees with the healthcare giant, along with the potential expansion of the assignment into Latin America.

The review follows Abbott's spin-off of its $18bn pharma division under the AbbVie brand earlier this year. 

Abbott Labs' remaning portfolio now includes generic pharmaceuticals; nutritionals; vascular; and, diagnostics. These units generated sales of around $21bn in 2012, with developing economies expected to power continued growth.

The spin-off meant that Abbott has centralised its public affairs function, leaving many of its markets without a dedicated comms team. Accordingly, Weber Shandwick will oversee regional reputation support across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, along with local market issues/crisis management and counsel in specific countries.

It is understood that at least three other PR networks pitched for the business across Europe and Asia. Budget for the combined activity is expected to be upwards of $2m.

The reviews are not thought to affect existing Abbott agency relationships. One agency source suggested that the mandate reflects new requirements at the company. Abbott spun off Abbvie because of concerns that investors were too focused on blockbuster drug Humira, which will see its patent exclusivity expire in 2016.

Abbott Asia-Pacific public affairs director Jen Stevenson declined to comment.