Legal Business Blogs

Sole adviser no more: Severn Trent to appoint at least two firms on new roster

FTSE 100 water company Severn Trent is set to move away from its sole advisor mandate with Eversheds, Legal Business has learned. The business, which is currently undergoing a panel review, will chose between two and five firms for its new roster, to be finalised by mid-February.

The water supplier is currently taking proposals from firms for a total of five different lots: debt recovery, employment, general quality regulation, property and combined competition/commercial economic regulation. But, it is understood that the company will give its debt recovery mandate to a seperate firm because they don’t have the volume of work to give to a larger sole advisor.

Severn Trent, which has a 12-member in-house team led by group company secretary and general counsel (GC) Bronagh Kennedy, has been in a Tyco-style sole advisor role with Eversheds since April 2010. However, this expires at the end of March and Severn Trent decided to carry out a tender process to look at whether it would be better served by a panel.

Although the company deals primarily with Eversheds, it does farm out some treasury and substantive M&A work to Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and in May 2013, the water company turned to HSF to reject a preliminary takeover offer by a Canadian, Kuwaiti and UK consortium, reportedly valued at £5bn. This current tender concerns only the work carried out by Eversheds, keeping the arrangement with HSF in place.

Eversheds has typically been successful in obtaining single-supplier mandates and managed to extend its sole adviser role with Tyco in September 2014 for a further three years. The deal saw Tyco EMEA GC David Symonds ask the firm to look at cutting all legal analysis to one-page documents.