The agency lost the business after Orange decided to remove it from a shortlist of agencies contesting the account. This will now see Mediaedge:cia, Vizeum and i-level (the digital incumbent) compete for the offline and online Orange accounts.
Havas' MPG was also knocked off the Orange shortlist, having won a place via its relationship with France Telecom in France. However, IPG has no plans to merge the operation, which also recently lost its E.ON energy account, with Universal McCann. Initiative will move into the St John's Square offices of Universal by the end of the year in a bid to generate cost savings, but the two UK brands will be preserved.
Gary Birtles, the chief executive of Initiative UK, said that it was too early to assess the full impact of the Orange loss on the agency and its staff.