By Arun Sudhaman

NEW YORK: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has consolidated its global PR account with Weber Shandwick, expanding the philanthropic organisation’s relationship with the Interpublic Group-owned agency.

The decision comes after the Holmes Report exclusively revealed that the Gates Foundation was reviewing its PR activities last month. Weber Shandwick wins the business following a pitch that also included Waggener Edstrom and Hill & Knowlton.

Weber Shandwick has worked with the Gates Foundation since 2008, on the organisation’s Global Development and Global Health programmes. The expanded retainer sees the agency take the lead strategic role on the Gates Foundation’s global activities, which also include food, microfinance and agricultural development.

The Gates Foundation chief communications officer Kate James said that Weber Shandwick had won the account after demonstrating “passion for the issues we focus on” allied to its global network strength.

Weber Shandwick chairman Jack Leslie added that the agency would focus on increasing “awareness of the innovative approaches being take to combat social inequality and help all people live productive and healthy lives.”

The Gates Foundation is considered the biggest “transparently operated’ private foundation in the world, with an endowment of $33.5 billion as of 31 December, 2009.