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Shell starts panel review as BG Group legal team undergoes post-acquisition restructure

Royal Dutch Shell has kicked off a review of its external legal roster after finalising its £47bn takeover of BG Group last month and as their existing panels come to an end. As a result of the takeover, the second-largest energy deal on record, both companies will overhaul their legal divisions.

The deal received regulatory approval at the end of last year and Shell obtained 83% shareholders’ approval at a specially convened general meeting at The Hague in January. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May advised BG and Shell respectively.

BG’s general counsel (GC) Tom Melbye Eide (pictured) was officially appointed to the role of executive vice president and GC for the upstream business at Shell in February. He now reports to Shell legal director Donny Ching and sits on the management team for the upstream business.

Meanwhile, BG has appointed a ‘transitional’ chief executive, who has a management team tasked with leading the transition of the BG operations. With this in mind, Shell lawyer James Hine has been appointed transitional GC, leading the changeover of BG’s legal team into Shell, which is expected to be finalised this year.

Eide told Legal Business: ‘Ultimately it will also be Shell’s panel that will prevail. There will be a period where we continue with the BG panel dealing [with] existing cases but for new matters we will apply Shell’s panel. Shell has its own programme and is in the process of reviewing its panel. We will only review ours if it’s relevant to Shell’s panel considerations. Our combined legal department will be based on Shell’s system and processes.’

Shell last undertook a lengthy panel review in 2013 under the leadership of former legal director Peter Rees QC who has since returned to the Bar. His successor, Ching, will now review the 11 firms that sit on its global legal panel: Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance (CC), CMS Cameron McKenna, Debevoise & Plimpton, Holman Fenwick Willan, King & Spalding, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright, Simmons & Simmons and Dentons. These firms are allocated work in three jurisdictions or more, with a wider panel comprising over 150 firms given work in local jurisdictions or in specific local practice areas.

BG also carried out its last review in 2013. It operates a slim roster of just three law firms – CC, CMS Cameron McKenna and Freshfields – leaving Freshfields as the only firm not on Shell’s global panel currently.

Click here to read our client profile on Tom Melbye Eide.