For a 6,000-plus-employee FTSE 100 energy company operating across 20 countries in five continents, BG Group’s panel of four law firm was already slim but just got slimmer, with the news that Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills have been dropped in favour of Clifford Chance, which wins a place alongside incumbents CMS Cameron McKenna and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
The appointment of the three firms – which will all offer full service advice to the energy giant – came into effect on the 1 November and follow a relatively short pitch process, which began in September.
The review was handled by general counsel (GC) Graham Vinter – who joined the group in 2007 from A&O where he was project finance head – alongside deputy GC Jason Klein.
A&O, HSF, Freshfields and CMS were appointed to BG’s panel back in 2010, after a complex seven-month pitch process that saw BG Group’s lengthier list of key legal advisers trimmed to just four.
Major work for the UK firms since 2010 have included Freshfields acting on the $1.7bn (£1.1bn) sale of the gas group’s majority holding in Brazilian gas distribution company Comgas, led by City corporate partner Graham Watson, alongside London managing partner Mark Rawlinson, Amsterdam corporate partner Robert ten Have, and tax partners Sarah Falk and Eelco van der Stok.
The UK panel is one of four similar arrangements at BG Group, which also operates legal panels in Brazil, North America and Australia.
A BG spokesperson said: ‘Following an extensive review of its UK legal panel, BG Group has appointed Clifford Chance LLP as a full service firm to its panel alongside existing firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. CMS Cameron McKenna also retains its place on the panel. The arrangements took effect from 1 November.’
The move comes as GCs are typically moving towards smaller panels with deeper relationships with their advisers, however, this panel is considerably smaller than many, including the likes of fellow FTSE 100 company Vodafone, where the panel runs into double figures.