Significant matters – Spring 2017

Tesco commits to BLP for real estate

Supermarket giant Tesco has gifted Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) with another three-year stint as its lead property adviser. The mandate was last extended in 2014 when Tesco dropped Ashurst from its panel and the extension is a further endorsement of BLP’s key practice area and low-cost Manchester base.

Tesco also uses Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for corporate and commercial work and the Magic Circle firm recently advised the supermarket as it signed a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay the Serious Fraud Office £129m in fines relating to a 2014 profit misstatement, avoiding prosecution after a two-year investigation. Allen & Overy, Hill Dickinson and Squire Patton Boggs are also among Tesco’s regular advisers.

BT rings panel changes

BT has concluded its long-awaited UK and Ireland panel review, with Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance and Linklaters winning places on the extended roster. The review also saw Addleshaw Goddard, Baker McKenzie, Berwin Leighton Paisner, CMS Cameron McKenna and Eversheds Sutherland named as advisers.

The new panel, which will run for three years until April 2020, was overseen by BT’s chief operating officer legal governance and compliance, Jon Furmston, and central operations head of suppliers and systems, Keith Thomson. BT’s previous roster comprised Bird & Bird, CMS, Freshfields, Wiggin and Sheridans. There were also arrangements with alternative legal providers Obelisk, Axiom, Halebury and SSQ Interim Solutions. BT is expected to continue an informal relationship with alternative providers.

IKEA assembles new UK panel

Scandinavian furniture giant IKEA has launched a review of its UK adviser panel. According to Who Represents Who data from The Legal 500, IKEA currently uses Shoosmiths for a number of mandates in England, including corporate and commercial, crime, fraud and licensing, employment, insurance, real estate and construction and TMT. Once selected, the panel will run for three years.


Freshfields and Hogan Lovells continue fintech push

In the latest in the trend of firms offering free advice to budding fintech start-ups, Hogan Lovells has launched a global fintech mentoring programme to guide clients.

The firm’s fintech mentors will operate in the UK, US, Germany and Hong Kong and offer commercial insight into launching and expanding new products as well as complimentary legal and compliance training and the use of fintech tools developed by Hogan Lovells. City-based fintech mentors at the firm include head of financial institutions Rachel Kent, head of commercial and retail banking Emily Reid and technology and fintech specialist John Salmon.

In other fintech news, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has given its associates the opportunity to pitch and win client relationships as part of a growing bid to win new clients in this area. Around 25 associates are part of the initiative, which began when a client invited associates Adam Ryan and Claire Harrop, who now lead the initiative, to pitch. The team has an annual budget and associates are rewarded with bonuses.

Double win for Virgin group at Legal Business Awards

The legal team at Virgin Media was named In-House Team of the Year while Virgin Atlantic’s Ahsan Gulabkhan was chosen as Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year at the annual Legal Business Awards ceremony on 23 March at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

The team of 35 lawyers at Virgin Media has worked to punch above its weight and has been key to the success of two major initiatives for Virgin Media in the past year, including Project Lightning, the single largest investment (£3bn) in UK broadband infrastructure for more than a decade, and a major sponsorship deal with Southampton Football Club to become the official shirt and club sponsor.

Gulabkhan, meanwhile, has hit consistently high standards on some of Virgin Atlantic’s biggest deals and has been singled out by external advisers and GC Julian Homerstone as an industry leader of the future.

Deutsche Bank appoints firms

Herbert Smith Freehills, Shearman & Sterling, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Reed Smith have all been appointed to Deutsche Bank’s new legal panel. The firms take their places alongside the entire Magic Circle on the panel, with the bank making headlines after saying it would not pay for junior lawyers.

Others on the panel, which is understood to be mostly complete, include Ashurst, Simmons & Simmons, Taylor Wessing, Hogan Lovells, Latham & Watkins, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Mayer Brown and White & Case.

Deutsche Bank

Moves that matter

  • The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Dan Williams has been appointed as UBS’ GC for wealth management in Asia-Pacific (APAC) and overall GC for the region. According to UBS, Williams has a ‘wide-ranging knowledge of products and the APAC region in general and has been heavily involved in managing a number of extensive regulatory investigations as well as a proven track record of managing large teams.’

Emma Slatter, Visa Europe

  • Emma Slatter (above), Deutsche Bank’s former head of strategy, has joined Visa Europe as GC to replace Niamh Grogan. In her new job at Visa, Slatter will report to New York-based executive vice president and GC Kelly Mahon Tullier and European chief executive Nicolas Huss.
  • RSA Group has appointed Jonathan Cope as head of legal for the insurer’s UK and international business. Cope, who took up the role at the beginning of February, now manages a team of ten lawyers across the UK, Ireland, western Europe and the Middle East. He reports to Matt Hotson, chief financial officer for UK and international, as well as RSA’s chief legal officer Charlotte Heiss.

    Network Rail’s GC Suzanne Wise has resigned after five years at the company to join Japan Tobacco International as senior vice president for corporate development. Wise, who trained at Lewis Silkin, will be based in Geneva and started her role on 1 June. Deputy group GC Stuart Kelly has been appointed to replace Wise as GC and company secretary at Network Rail.

  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Philip Richards has been seconded to head up Rio Tinto’s legal team following the departure of legal and regulatory affairs group executive Debra Valentine. London-based Richards focuses on M&A, governance and other corporate advisory and transactional work for a wide range of financial sector clients, in particular with banking insurance/reinsurance, and financial infrastructure clients, as well as for private equity investors.
  • Coca-Cola European Partners has freshened up its legal leadership team, appointing Reckitt Benckiser’s Huma Allana as its new vice president for legal in Great Britain. Paul van Reesch has taken up the new role of vice president for legal corporate and deputy company secretary. Van Reesch took over from Atlanta-based Suzanne Forlidas, who retired at the end of March.
  • Long-time Playtech adviser Alex Latner has moved in-house from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), taking up the GC role at the publicly traded gaming company. Latner replaced former GC David McLeish, who also moved from BLP to the Israeli gaming firm, back in 2013. McLeish joined Wiggin last year, with an interim legal head taking over before Latner was appointed at the start of 2017.