Ashurst and RPC are among a quartet of firms that have won places on Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE)’s UK legal panel, with the drinks company also selecting Devereux Chambers as its preferred barristers’ set ahead of a review of its internal legal function.
CCE vice president for legal Paul van Reesch said after conducting a ‘deep review’ of its external counsel, Ashurst, RPC, Lewis Silkin and Shoosmiths have been allocated spots, following a competitive tender process between an estimated 35 law firms.
Van Reesch, who predicts CCE’s legal budget, ranging between £500,000 and £1m, will reduce by 10% over the next year, said: ‘We wanted a strong offering in three or four key areas. We tried to get a sense of how firms are thinking about our industry and the business, as well as the best fees they could offer, without it being a race to the bottom.’
Notably van Reesch also awarded commercial set Devereux Chambers a spot as its preferred legal provider at the Bar, after inviting several sets to tender, in a bid ‘to drive value through direct access to the Bar’. The drinks brand also recently finalised its three-year plan for the legal function in Europe in October, in an exercise led by van Reesch.
Part of that plan will see van Reesch conduct a strategic review of its legal function in a bid to bring its team closer to the business. He also plans to scope ‘how best to take advantage of technology changes in the marketplace’ as well as the potential for legal process outsourcing to allow the team to focus on more complex matters.
Commencement of the strategic review has been delayed by CCE’s $31bn proposed merger in September to create the world’s largest independent bottler for the soft-drink maker in what will be one of the region’s largest ever consumer products deals.
For an in-depth interview with Coke’s vice president for legal Paul van Reesch, subscribers can read this month’s Client Profile here.