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    AMP seeks to make a UK splash


    SYDNEY - Fund manager and life insurer AMP, with its stock wallowing near historic lows, launched an international marketing campaign yesterday to push itself in Britain as a financial services brand.

    The campaign - with a cast list including athletes Ian Thorpe and Cathy Freeman and entertainers and personalities Jerry Hall, Clive James, Michael Parkinson and Dame Edna Everage - comes as critics question AMP's viability in Britain, where falling equity asset values have pressured its financial strength.

    In June AMP slashed 1500 jobs in Britain to reduce inefficiencies following the merger of its Pearl, NPI and London Life businesses, but it was forced to issue a profit warning last month as financial markets tumbled.

    A ratings downgrade by Standard & Poor's triggered a share price slide to historic lows this week, with AMP closing at A$13.53 ($15.87), not far from Tuesday's all-time low of A$12.90.

    AMP, which also owns British-headquartered fund manager AMP Henderson Global Investors, has a high exposure through its life operations to British equities, which have fallen about 20 per cent this year.

    AMP said the campaign had been planned for months and was not an effort to shut the stable door after the horse had bolted.

    "This is about business as usual, this is about the long-term development of the brand," said Matthew Percival, general manager of corporate public affairs. Until now, there had been no attempt to push the AMP financial services brand in Britain, he said.

    Instead, AMP had been leveraging off the well-known brands that it began to acquire 10 years ago, before accelerating its push into Britain two years ago.

    AMP plans to spend A$70 million to A$80 million on the campaign this year and next year. The TV commercials go to air in Britain and Australia on Sunday, and at a later date in New Zealand.

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