18 June 2000

WPP-owned J Walter Thompson has resigned the bluechip First-e account in the wake of a row with the European internet bank over delays in payment for its work.

First-e’s chief executive, Christopher Kaiser, denied that the bank was undergoing liquidity problems. “As our regulators in France and Britain know, we are liquid and remain very adequately capitalised,” he said. First-e claims over 65,000 customers and is poised to merge with Europe’s second largest retail bank, Banco Bilbao, if regulators approve.

However, this cut no ice in Berkeley Square. According to a JWT mole: “There comes a point when enough is enough … we couldn’t go on putting the resources into the relationship for the problems we were getting. Payments were taking too long to come through. It just wasn’t worth the hassle; it’s not even as if the fees were that big.”

But back on the record, JWT was more circumspect. Refusing to comment on the reasons for the split, a spoke was diplomacy itself: “We wish them well and we’ll continue to work with them until; they get another agency,” he said.

News source: Sunday Business (UK)