NEW YORK — It takes a modern Homer to spin a tale this epic.
Greece, trying to stave off a debt default, is seeking to hire an international public relations firm to bolster its case in the financial press. Bloomberg News said it learned that they include Maitland Consultancy and Brunswick Group.
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou decided the country needs professional crisis communicators, the news agency said, citing unidentified sources. "It's our duty to debunk" perceptions that Greek debt is "catastrophic," Papaconstantinou told lawmakers in Athens on April 26.
"It's never too late for damage control," said Richard Dukas, chief executive officer of Dukas Public Relations, a New York-based firm that isn't among those applying. "Greece is clearly in trouble, and the last thing you want to do is go and hide underneath a rock."
Papaconstantinou, in Washington last week for Group of 20 and International Monetary Fund meetings, had planned a separate trip to New York to interview the firms under consideration, Bloomberg News reported. He shelved that plan as the crisis intensified.
Filio Lanara, a spokeswoman for the Greek finance ministry, declined to comment. Philip Gawith, chief executive officer at London-based Maitland, said he couldn't comment, as did Steve Lipin at Brunswick, also based in London.
"Survival" at stake: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said Friday that the nation's survival was at stake in talks to win a potential $159 billion European Union-led bailout that included budget cuts denounced by unions as "savage." "Now, today, immediately, what is at stake is the survival of the nation," Papandreou said in Parliament in Athens Friday.