Significant matters – Autumn 2019

WeWork picks 11 firms for first EMEA panel

Workspace provider WeWork has launched its first legal panel for the EMEA region with 11 firms for an initial two-year period. The panel includes Addleshaw Goddard, Bird & Bird, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, DLA Piper, Eversheds Sutherland, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells, McCann FitzGerald, Shoosmiths and Simmons & Simmons. The panel follows the appointment of Sarah Nelson Smith as its first regional GC, who joined from KFC, where she was European legal chief.

Siemens refreshes UK roster

Siemens-(2)Osborne Clarke has lost its place to Pinsent Masons on Siemens’ revamped UK legal panel, while Addleshaw Goddard and Eversheds Sutherland have retained their spots for another three years. Pinsents was part of Siemens’ 2013 panel and last year advised on the acquisition of Lightwork Design, a computer software and technology licensing company based in Sheffield. In the past year, Siemens has restructured globally, with digital industries, gas and power and smart infrastructure now making up its core business.

Handling leaves BlackRock

Handling,-Erica-(NEW)Global investment management firm BlackRock has lost its European GC Erica Handling (pictured) after four years. A former Ashurst partner and EMEA investment bank GC for Barclays, Handling managed a team of 60 lawyers providing legal services to the company’s European offices in London, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Hungary. Her move to BlackRock in 2015 reflected a shift towards more prominent market positions for asset management companies. Ben Archibald, an in-house lawyer at the firm for the past nine years, has taken over responsibility as GC.

Axiom abandons IPO plans as Permira comes in


Global private equity firm Permira has taken a majority stake in Axiom, the legal staffing and services provider. Axiom made an IPO application in February this year but following this strategic investment from Permira, abandoned its plans to go public. The investment will support Axiom in its bid to expand its business by launching new service delivery capabilities. Permira has previously invested in professional services businesses, such as corporate finance adviser Duff & Phelps, online legal services provider LegalZoom, specialist fund administrator Alter Domus, corporate and investor services provider Tricor and payroll software provider P&I.

Aviva picks ten panel firms after
six-year hiatus

FTSE 100 insurer Aviva has appointed ten City firms following its first legal panel review since 2013. Led by head of legal operations Caroline Brown the two-lot panel, covering the group and investor businesses, came into effect on 1 July after the previous panel ran its course. It will run on an initial three-year term. Aviva has appointed Allen & Overy, DLA Piper, Eversheds Sutherland, Pinsent Masons, RPC and Slaughter and May to its group panel, while Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang join the investors panel. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Eversheds Sutherland and RPC were appointed for the first time.

Evolution at National Geographic

Media company National Geographic Partners has announced that its business and legal affairs division will be split into two departments – legal affairs and television business affairs. Evelyn Miller will take up the new role of deputy chief counsel and be responsible for providing legal advice to management and overseeing the legal affairs of the company in the areas of television rights management and magazine businesses. Jeff Schneider has taken up the newly-created role as executive vice president of television business affairs and operations and take responsibility for all deal-making functions and act as business liaison to talent agencies and all parties having business with National Geographic Channels.

Moves that matter



  • Skyscanner has hired former Deliveroo legal chief Rob Miller (above) as its GC and company secretary following the departure of Carolyn Jameson. Prior to his time at Deliveroo, Miller was legal chief of London-based tech firm Improbable and between 2012 and 2017 was chief legal officer and company secretary at video game developer King, where he led on its $7.2bn IPO and eventual sale to Activision Blizzard. Jameson has been appointed as chief legal and policy officer at consumer review website Trustpilot.
  • Amazon has appointed Asda general counsel and company secretary Alex Simpson as GC. During his time at Asda, Simpson led a team of lawyers, corporate affairs and enterprise risk professionals across the supermarket chain – including advising on its failed merger bid with Sainsbury’s. Simpson’s hire is in line with Amazon’s strategy to enhance its position in the UK grocery market following its purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7bn in 2017.
  • Halma has appointed former Worldpay GC Ruwan de Soyza as its first GC and company secretary. De Soyza announced he was leaving Worldpay last November in favour of a FTSE 100 technology company – Halma is a global group of technology companies making products for hazard detection and life protection. De Soyza previously held roles at Standard Chartered Bank, Accenture and Clifford Chance, where he trained, and has 21 years of experience in the legal sector. 
  • Former head of pensions at Clyde & Co, Mark Howard, has joined Smart Pension as its first GC. Howard joined Clydes in 2011 and advised on all areas of pensions law with a particular focus on compliance with the automatic enrolment regime, de-risking transactions and advising on professional negligence claims relating to pension schemes. Founded in 2014 by Andrew Evans, Smart Pension uses technology and online platforms for workplace pensions.
  • The Estée Lauder Companies has appointed Deirdre Stanley as executive vice president and general counsel. Stanley joins from Thomson Reuters where she was the general counsel for 17 years. She will be part of the executive leadership team and report to executive chair William Lauder as well as president and chief executive Fabrizio Freda. Stanley replaces Sara Moss, who has been promoted to the newly-created position of vice chair.
  • Philip Richards will retire as group GC of the global mining giant Rio Tinto at the end of December after two years in the role. He will be replaced by Barbara Levi, who is group legal head of M&A and strategic transactions at Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, from 1 January 2020.
  • TransferWise’s high-profile GC, Jenifer Swallow, is stepping down after nearly four years. The GC Powerlist regular said during the summer that she was taking time before deciding on her next move, while Transferwise is now looking to fill her position. Swallow was the first in-house lawyer TransferWise hired and grew the legal team to seven staff, including four lawyers.
  • ASOS has appointed its group legal director Anna Suchopar as interim GC after Andrew Magowan left the company at the end of June. Magowan spent seven years as the online fashion house’s GC and company secretary after joining the business from industrial aviation services provider Bristow Group, where he was a legal director.