LONDON--Healthcare giant Abbott Laboratories is searching for corporate and public affairs support across Europe and Asia, the Holmes Report can reveal.

As many as 10 agencies are understood to have been invited to take part in the European process, which is being led by Abbott's procurement team in Ireland.

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 means that Abbott has centralised its public affairs function, leaving many of its markets without a dedicated comms team. Accordingly, the company is looking for both pan-European reputation support, and local market issues/crisis management and counsel.

Countries that require local support include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

Larger countries -- including France, the UK, Spain, Russia, Germany, Ireland, Israel and Turkey -- already have local public affairs support in place, but are thought to be key markets for broader reputation support and media outreach.

According to sources involved in the review, the European budget is likely to be substantial. Agencies have been asked to indicate whether they wish to service the entire region or specific countries. 

In Asia-Pacific, meanwhile, it is understood that Abbott Labs has begun a similar process, according to sources familiar with the situation. The company's nutrition business is expected to grow at around 35 percent per year, driven by increasing penetration in China, India and Southeast Asia.

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 Labs declined to comment as this story went live.