Five UK firms win places on German giant's panel

German banking giant Commerzbank AG has appointed its first panel of law firms to handle its growing number of UK legal issues.

Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Cameron McKenna and Theodore Goddard have won places on the panel after a beauty parade at the beginning of this year.

Richard Caird, Commerzbank's head of legal and compliance in the UK, says: “There has been a big build up of our investment banking business in London in the last two years. The bank has increased its number of staff from about 200 to around 1,000 people.”

Caird says the panel should make dealing with legal issues more efficient because it cuts out the time the bank spends choosing different firms when dealing with separate issues.

He says: “Before we had an ad-hoc system. Now this panel will do all our UK work.”

But the panel firms are set to compete against each other for work on specific issues as they arise.

It is thought that most of the deals the firms will be competing to advise over will be connected to corporate banking, capital markets, structured finance, securitisations, derivatives and fixed income business, such as bonds.

Giles White, a Linklaters banking partner in London, says: “Commerzbank is looking for broad finance expertise. We worked for them for a while on the securities side.

“To be put on their banking panel is a significant development for us.”

It is thought the panel will also handle some of the legal work coming out of Commerzbank's German branches, especially if English law is being used for a transaction.

But Commerzbank in Germany will continue to instruct firms on an ad-hoc basis.

It tends to use the branches and alliance partners of UK magic circle firms in Germany along with domestic firms – especially the country's two largest firms, 141-partner Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Laber and 66-partner Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz.