Legal Business

Associated British Ports

  • General counsel and company secretary: Andrew Garner.
  • Team headcount: four lawyers.

According to one law firm partner instructed by Associated British Ports (ABP), Britain’s largest port operator: ‘It’s a small but very resourceful in-house team. It has a very close relationship with management and is able to steer matters smoothly and efficiently.’

GC and company secretary Andrew Garner is particularly noted for being ‘erudite and affable, extremely perceptive and able to cut straight to key issues’. Garner was appointed as head of the legal division at ABP in 2005 from travel operator First Choice. By 2006, he was successfully navigating ABP through a multibillion-pound takeover by a consortium of private investors comprising Borealis, GIC, Goldman Sachs and Prudential.

Meanwhile, senior solicitor Angela Morgan is noted for being ‘hands on’ and praised for her tenacity and ability to grasp key issues. Angus Dawson, a construction and engineering partner at Macfarlanes, says: ‘Angela has just led from the in-house side on a £300m port redevelopment project we have advised ABP on. Although she does not have a real estate background, this was not apparent in her handling of the transaction.’

ABP may own and operate 21 ports around the UK, and manage around 25% of the UK’s seaborne trade, but Garner has opted not to put a formalised panel in place, instead calling on a roster of up to 23 firms. These are split into two camps: some regionally-based and close to ports and others that do more centralised work.

Annual external legal spend is generally between £1m and £3m, but this varies from year to year and depends on whether ABP is involved in major development projects or heavy litigation.