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Clifford Chance has won a much coveted place on the new panel of property giant the Rotch Group, after satisfying concerns that it would not be cost effective.
The firm joins Ashurst Morris Crisp and Slaughter and May as a 'level one' adviser on the new panel set up by group counsel Meena Heath. Clifford Chance will handle securitisation and complex property finance, and will be considered across the board for international work. Real estate partner Andrew Rolfe will manage the client relationship. Heath said: "Our main business is securitisation, so we have to choose firms which know what they are doing. We need three large firms because of conflicts. Inevitably one of them is likely to be acting for the banks." Clifford Chance was omitted when the main panel was announced in May. Heath said: "Clifford Chance has had a long relationship with Rotch. Because of the panel they needed to demonstrate that they could still be cost effective. Their ability wasn't in question. It was a question of whether they would be too expensive." Clifford Chance's ability to field younger assistants was crucial. Heath was particularly impressed by the performance of assistant Simon Rae, who is involved in ongoing work for Rotch. Rolfe said: "Rotch is a major client of the firm. We've had a close relationship with it and we're very pleased that it will continue to instruct us. We didn't take it as read that we would continue working with it. It will judge by performance, it has enough people on the panel to be able to do that." Heath appointed Macfarlanes and Osborne Clarke as medium-sized advisers, while Memery Crystal, Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn and Julian Holy make up its team of niche advisers. Longstanding adviser Bird & Bird was among those to lose out when the panel was set up. Additions may be made in the future, but Heath's immediate project is to appoint US advisers to the panel. "We've got transactions on at the moment that will facilitate the panel appointments in that area," she said. Rotch has an annual legal spend of £5m.