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Derivatives experience helps Ashurst join Magic Circle on Credit Suisse UK legal roster

A strong reputation for derivatives work has seen Ashurst selected to join the Magic Circle’s big four international firms on Credit Suisse’s recently finalised UK panel.

The investment bank renegotiates its legal panel every two years. Ashurst is the latest firm to be appointed to the panel – alongside Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance (CC), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters – thanks largely to its track record in derivatives, with clients that include JPMorgan, and the reputation of finance partner Christopher Georgiou.

A partner at Ashurst for more than a decade, Georgiou was the legal head for derivative boutique Gen Re Securities and before that was head of legal in London for the fixed income and treasury trading floors of NatWest Markets.

Bucking the trend of large-scale banking panels, Credit Suisse has decided to keep its external legal roster small. A lawyer at the bank said: ‘With the big work we send their way, in order to generate savings while not affecting the quality, it is better to concentrate work in [fewer] hands. We can’t have many firms. They can make money if we give them £10m worth of work rather than split it among ten firms for £1m.’

Freshfields is known to primarily undertake disputes work for the bank, while A&O has handled major corporate instructions, including the £500m IPO of UK IT infrastructure provider Softcat in October, advising Credit Suisse on its role as joint sponsor and bookrunners.

The bank is in the process of restructuring its EMEA legal division in readiness for the departure of managing director and EMEA general counsel (GC) Maria Leistner for rival bank UBS, where she has been appointed global GC for the bank’s wealth management division. Leistner joined Credit Suisse in 2004 when it reorganised its operations into a ‘one bank’ model to ensure collaboration between its private banking, investment banking and asset management divisions.

Leistner is currently serving her notice period but there will be no direct replacement for her EMEA GC role and some of her responsibilities will be absorbed into the private banking business. As for her role as GC for UK and Europe for the investment banking division, this has now been given to Adrian Ratcliffe, who previously headed the bank’s securities business.

Other banks that have opted for larger panels in recent months include JPMorgan Chase, which appointed the entire Magic Circle, as well as CMS Cameron McKenna, Eversheds and Norton Rose Fulbright, while The Royal Bank of Scotland also undertook a review, and appointed CC, Linklaters and A&O among several others to its roster for the next three years.