Bankers hire BP oil spill PR man to boost image

LONDON Tue Mar 6, 2012 9:41am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Europe's bankers have hired the man responsible for leading oil giant BP's public relations campaign during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as head of the lobby group striving to restore their battered reputation in Europe.

Andrew Gowers has been appointed director of external relations at pan-European lobby group the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), whose membership includes most of the big U.S. and European banks operating across the continent.

Gowers, who was also head of communications and brand management at Lehman Brothers during its collapse, left BP in the wake of the spill.

BP was criticized for an array of PR blunders, including issuing computer-modified photographs of the spill.

Former Chief Executive Tony Hayward also sparked public fury with a series of gaffes in the wake of the rig blast that killed 11 men and led to the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, including saying he wanted his "life back."

Gowers, a former editor of the Financial Times newspaper, has been working as a consultant to AFME for the last three months, helping edit the AFME book 'Investing in Change'.

Bankers remain the subject of public anger, with many blaming them for causing the financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn.

A number of British bankers have been forced to cut or decline their bonus payments following criticism from politicians.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Mark Potter)

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