France Telecom gears up to appoint new legal panel

France Telecom is completing a full-scale review of its legal advisers and has promised that some of its existing advisers will be dropped.

The French national telecoms provider already has framework agreements in place with 10 law firms, but after a new review procedure involving 60 law firms, a new list will be produced by the end of this month.

Acting general counsel François Buge told The Lawyer: “We’ve retained not all the law firms we had in 2003.”

Buge took up the reins after former general counsel Jean-Pierre Mattout left the company earlier this year. Former chief executive Michael Bon appointed Mattout to the role in February 2002, but Thierry Breton succeeded Bon in October that year.

Clifford Chance and Shearman & Sterling have had extremely close relationships with France Telecom and Buge would be springing an enormous surprise if either was dropped from the panel.

The position of Sullivan & Cromwell is more interesting. The firm has muscled in lately, advising France Telecom on its E3.9bn (£2.66bn) takeover of internet service provider Wanadoo and taking a role on the company’s recent part-privatisation. The privatisation has given the company even more acquisition power.

Other firms with relationships, such as Davis Polk & Wardwell, Jones Day Reavis & Pogue and Linklaters, will hope to win panel places.