A&O beats City to nuclear work

ALLEN & Overy has won the job of advising the Government in its privatisation of the nuclear industry.

The firm will act for the Department of Trade. It beat a shortlist of four City giants last week, including Slaughter and May, which advised the former Department of Energy in the electricity privatisation, and Herbert Smith.

Barclays de Zoete Wedd has been appointed as financial co-ordinator to the industry privatisation and the restructuring in 1996 of the more modern power stations.

Corporate partner Richard Cranfield leads the legal team, with partners Peter Holland, Ian Elder, David Lewis and Owen Lomas. “We are at an early stage of taking instructions,” says Holland.

Privatisation will involve the Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear companies, currently advised by Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith, being absorbed into a holding company as wholly-owned subsidiaries. The holding company, Hold Co, will be floated in 1996, raising £7 billion.

Lawyers speculate that Clifford Chance may be given the job of advising HoldCo because of its industry experience. Herbert Smith, Slaughter and May, and Freshfields – acting for public sector British Nuclear Fuels – may tender to advise BZW or the public sector Magnox company, due to be set up.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is re-licensing parts of the industry in the next 12-14 months, but this should not delay the privatisation work.