CGNU slashes legal panel to four firms

Insurance giant CGNU has dramatically overhauled its property investment panel, slashing it from 16 firms to four, and dropping Clifford Chance in the process.

The winning firms are Berwin Leighton, Hammond Suddards Edge, Nabarro Nathanson and Penningtons.

CGNU is the second-largest property investment company after Prudential. Morley Fund Management, the CGNU subsidiary that manages its funds, along with those of other companies, looks after property investments worth £7bn.

It is understood that the in-house team whittled the firms down to seven at the end of last year, and the shortlisted firms were invited at the end of January to compete for the four panel places.

It is believed that the firms were judged on a range of factors, including cost and, in particular, the level of service that would be afforded them.

Despite its long history of doing CGNU’s property work, Clifford Chance has not made it through. Clifford Chance is also one of CGNU’s main corporate advisers. Last year it was instructed by CGU on its £19bn merger with Norwich Union, which was advised by Slaughter and May (The Lawyer, 28 February 2000).

Penningtons has a longstanding relationship with CGU, dating back to the late 1980s, when it started working for Commercial Union.

Hammonds’ place is thought to be down to its recent merger with Edge Ellison. The firm, specifically through relationship partner Jonathan Morshead, has worked with the company for several years.

Berwin Leighton and Nabarros are thought to be more recent recruits.

CGNU and all of the successful panel firms declined to comment.