Legal Business

In-house: EDF Energy pulls plug on eight firms in reduced legal roster

EDF Energy, one of the UK’s big six energy suppliers, has nearly halved its UK legal panel and added two new faces as it looks for ‘deeper and broader’ relationships with a smaller number of firms.

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner  (BCLP) were added to the new panel of eight firms, which has been cut from the previous panel’s 14.

Baker McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Pinsent Masons, Eversheds Sutherland, Squire Patton Boggs and Burges Salmon all retain their places on EDF’s panel, while Clifford Chance, Dentons, TLT, Osborne Clarke, Veale Wasbrough Vizards, Kennedys, Weightmans and Foot Anstey have lost their spots.

The review of the panel – which will run until 2020 – was led by EDF chief legal officer Guido Santi. Its reduction in size was to bring EDF closer to firms which could advise across the various businesses it has within the energy sector, including nuclear power stations and supplying electricity and gas to businesses and homes.

He commented: ‘We believe that building deeper and broader relationships with a smaller number of panel firms will help ensure we get effective, strategic legal advice, and cost efficiencies too. This has not happened by accident; it is the positive outcome of a very complex process that has required a lot of dedication, planning and forward thinking but has had the ultimate advantage of bringing us closer to our preferred firms with a better understanding of their expectations.’

One of EDF’s more high-profile transactions in recent years was the UK government’s game-changing 2013 decision to build the first nuclear power plant in a generation, in what was a £16bn agreement to build two European pressurised reactors at the Hinkley Point C site in Somerset. HSF advised EDF on the deal, which was the culmination of two and half years of negotiations.

Legal Business

In-house wrap: Air France confirms new law chief as EDF and PwC make senior hires

It has been a busy week for in-house moves, with three major companies seeing significant changes in their legal teams. First up, Air France-KLM has appointed a new head of legal after a near year-long process. Pauline Baron has been promoted to head of legal at Air France after serving as head of corporate and securities at the aviation group for over two years.

Baron assumed the role in July, replacing outgoing legal head Guillaume Hecketsweiler, who left the company last October. Jérôme Nanty, Air France’s executive vice president and corporate secretary, headed the company’s legal division in the interim period.

Elsewhere, ETF Securities European regulatory counsel Marco Boldini (pictured) is leaving the company for Big Four accountancy group PwC. The former Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, & Partners lawyer, who was cited as a rising star in the 2017 GC Powerlist, will take up his London-based position as head of regulations in January 2018.

Boldini, who has been with ETF for over four years, told Legal Businessthat his hire is ‘another step in PwC building their legal capability’ and is ‘key to developing the regulatory legal expertise in the asset management industry’.

‘They were looking for someone of a senior level to build up the team and make this new offering a very credible one for the market,’ Boldini said. ‘I am very excited because PwC is a great brand which has a massive client base. It is a legal model which I am very keen to explore for them.’

Rounding off, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) head of power and renewables Julia Pyke has left the firm to join energy company EDF as general counsel for nuclear new build businesses. Pyke left HSF in June after over 15 years at the City firm, and will be replaced in her role by Matthew Job. Pyke had been the lead adviser for EDF on its planned construction of the nuclear power station, Hinkley Point C.

HSF senior partner James Palmer commented: ‘While we are sorry she is moving, we are delighted that it is to such an important client.’

See June’s cover feature for Legal Business‘s take on the legal ambitions of the Big Four accountancy firms (£)