Significant matters – Winter 2018

Carillion collapse threatens legal arm

The future of Carillion Advice Services (CAS) is uncertain after the collapse of its parent, construction giant Carillion, in one of the largest UK insolvencies for years. The Wolverhampton-headquartered company filed for liquidation in January after talks with its creditors and the government failed to reach a deal on Carillion’s £1.5bn liabilities, including £900m of debt. The Official Receiver is now winding down the business, putting CAS, which is not in liquidation, on the block as part of an asset fire sale. CAS, the low-cost legal arm which has more than 70 paralegals providing services to Carillion as well as external clients, was inherited by the construction company in 2011 as part of its £300m acquisition of energy services company Eaga. Carillion’s own in-house legal team had around 30 staff.

Carillion-workersSocGen unveils international panel

French financial services group Société Générale (SocGen) has named 12 law firms to its new international panel, with a further six practices instructed for disputes and tax work. The panel is split into 12 full-service firms, broken down further into eight ‘preferred’ firms and four ‘selected’ firms, with a further six specialists responsible for large litigation and tax. Ashurst, Dentons, DLA Piper, Herbert Smith Freehills, Mayer Brown, Norton Rose Fulbright, Simmons & Simmons and Watson Farley & Williams were appointed as preferred firms. Baker McKenzie, Gide Loyrette Nouel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Shearman & Sterling make up the selected firms. The four firms named to handle litigation and regulatory work are Allen & Overy, Debevoise & Plimpton, Hogan Lovells and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, while Fidal and PwC are the chosen tax counsel. The panel came into effect at the start of this year on a six-year term.

Roster moves at Vodafone, Yum! Brands

Fast food company Yum! Brands has established a new European panel of advisory firms after a review process that took place at the end of last year. Eversheds Sutherland retained its place and will be the company’s lead European firm. The other firms are Bird & Bird, TLT, Cooley, Squire Patton Boggs, Gowling WLG, Whiting & Purches and Burness Paull. The panel runs for two years.

Meanwhile, mobile phone giant Vodafone completed a review of its legal panel, replacing DLA Piper and Eversheds Sutherland with Squire Patton Boggs and TMT specialist Wiggin. The firms remaining on the seven-strong roster, previously last reviewed in 2014, are Magic Circle outfits Slaughter and May and Linklaters, alongside Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright and Osborne Clarke. There is no fixed term for the panel but the company expects to keep the roster for the next three years.

#MeToo light shone on the legal industry

A raft of prominent law firms have been embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment and misogyny, highlighting the need for tougher scrutiny of the legal industry’s record. A Dentons partner, who joined from legacy Maclay Murray & Spens, left the firm after an internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Four firms were then linked to the controversial Presidents Club dinner, after partners from Mishcon de Reya and Berwin Leighton Paisner attended the event. A former Kingsley Napley partner, who was latterly a consultant to the firm, was named on the guest list, while a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson left shortly after arriving at the event, and did not attend the dinner. Finally, a Baker McKenzie partner is leaving the firm after being accused of sexually assaulting an associate. The firm is reviewing its procedures following criticism of its handling of the allegation, and is in dialogue with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Bank shake-up

Linklaters, Clifford Chance, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, Eversheds Sutherland, Herbert Smith Freehills, Bates Wells & Braithwaite, Osborne Clarke, Ashurst, Hogan Lovells, and Reed Smith have all won spots on Lloyds Banking Group’s commercial banking pass-through panel. Elsewhere, Metro Bank has nine new firms on its lending and securities panel, as the total number of advising firms rose from 14 to 18. CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, Charles Russell Speechlys, Bates Wells & Braithwaite, DMH Stallard, Gateley, Seddons, Abrahams Dresden, Birketts, and Woodfines joined Blake Morgan, Hugh James, McMillan Williams, Eversheds Sutherland, Dentons, EMW, Herrington Carmichael, Howard Kennedy and Lawrence Stephens on the panel. Metro Bank is now reviewing its commercial panel in a process expected to be completed in May.

Moves that matter

  • BT has appointed former Anheuser-Busch InBev legal chief Sabine Chalmers (pictured)as its general counsel, effective April, as one of the in-house legal market’s most influential GCs, Dan Fitz, steps down after seven years. Chalmers was chief legal and corporate affairs officer at AB InBev for 13 years, before her departure last year following that company’s tie-up with fellow drinks giant SABMiller. Fitz will remain on BT’s executive committee as company secretary.
    Sabine Chalmers, BT
  • FTSE 100 insurer Aviva has appointed former Bupa UK legal director Alison Gammon as its UK Insurance GC following the departures of Aviva UK Life GC and company secretary Monica Risam and Tim Vickers, who led Aviva’s General Insurance legal team. Gammon heads a newly combined legal team after Aviva brought its UK Life and UK General Insurance businesses together as UK Insurance.
  • Monica Risam was in turn appointed Europe GC at Luxembourg wealth-structuring company Lombard International Assurance. She will lead a multi-disciplinary team of around 60 people across legal, regulatory affairs, company secretariat, risk and compliance at the company, which has €74.6bn in assets under management.
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland joined a growing trend of in-house legal teams creating operations roles with the appointment of its first chief operating officer (COO), Suzanne Rodway. Rodway is the legal team’s first COO, ending a search that began last summer as part of a bid to shake-up the bank’s senior in-house roles. Rodway keeps her former position as head of data privacy law.
  • Former Co-operative Bank GC Brona McKeown has been appointed GC and company secretary of British Land. She arrives following the departure of incumbent Elaine Williams for UK logistics firm Eddie Stobart after two years in the role. McKeown had left the Co-op Bank in October 2017 after being with the group since 2013. She was replaced by David Bagley.
  • TSB Bank has hired the former GC of GE Renewable Energy’s Hydro arm, Lorna Curry, as GC to replace the retired Susan Crichton. Curry has more than 25 years’ experience, mostly at GE, where she was most recently responsible for legal advice and risk management across its hydro projects. Crichton came to TSB in 2013 after the bank had split from Lloyds and guided it through an initial public offering and subsequent takeover.
  • City finance veteran Stephen Gillespie has left Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher after three years to join international investment business, Letterone Holdings, as its GC. Gillespie joined Gibson in December 2014 from Kirkland & Ellis as part of the LA-headquartered firm’s substantial push to bring on board heavyweight advisers for its London office, becoming co-chair of its global finance team.