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Winning work: Freshfields takes Slaughters’ place as government cuts its stake in Lloyds

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has stolen a march on rival Slaughter and May after winning the role representing the UK government in its latest disposal of holdings in Lloyds Banking Group.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which oversees the HM Treasury’s stake in Lloyds, carried out the sale with a Freshfields team led by London corporate partners Mark Austin and Julian Makin advising.

The work is a significant win for Freshfields as UKFI previously instructed Slaughters’ corporate team, led by partner Nilufer von Bismarck, when the government first sold a 6% share in the bank three years ago. This came after the government initially held around a 45% stake in Lloyds after it was bailed out with £20bn of funds following the 2008 financial crisis. Von Bismarck also acted for the government when Lloyds and The Royal Bank of Scotland took part in its asset protection scheme in 2009 which saw Lloyds raise £21bn in capital.

The sale, which brought state ownership at the bank down to less than 13%, comes after the government launched a trading plan at the end of last year and takes the total recovered to almost £14bn. 

In April this year, Lloyds group general counsel Andrew Whittaker stood down from his role after two years and was succeeded by deputy GC Kate Cheetham. More recently however, Linklaters’ managing partner Simon Davies confirmed he will retire from the Magic Circle firm at the end of 2015, a year ahead of the end of his current term, to join Lloyds Banking Group as its chief people, legal and strategy officer, and also take a place on the bank’s executive committee.