Labour Taps Hakluyt as Adviser to Woo Business Ahead of Vote

(Bloomberg) -- The UK Labour Party has brought in strategic advisory firm Hakluyt & Co. to step up its engagement with business and the City of London ahead of the next general election.

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Hakluyt, which was launched nearly 30 years ago by a group of former officials from MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, is helping the opposition party organize meetings with prominent business figures, according to people familiar with the arrangement.

“The Labour Party isn’t one of Hakluyt’s clients,” said a spokesperson for the advisory firm. “We do not work for political parties.” A Labour spokesperson declined to comment.

In March, Hakluyt hired former UK Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to lead its corporate coverage in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Robbins, who also worked in 10 Downing Street for ex-Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, was linked with a possible job with Labour in a report from the Times newspaper earlier this year.

Hakluyt also employs several other staff members with connections to the Labour Party, including its chairman Varun Chandra, a former Lehman Brothers banker who went on to work for Tony Blair Associates, the ex-premier’s now-closed advisory firm.

Labour has been courting the British business community in a campaign that has drawn comparisons to Blair’s “prawn cocktail offensive” ahead of his successful landslide election in 1997. The opposition party currently leads the governing Conservatives by around 20 points in opinion polls, with an election due before January 2025.

In recent months, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves have tried to woo Tory donors, glad-handed at Davos, and argued they are more pro-growth than Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker.

As of last year, Hakluyt advised some 40% of the world’s largest companies by market value and more than 75% of the top 20 private equity firms.

(Updates with Hakluyt’s comment in third paragraph.)

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