Freshfields and Sutherland Asbill line up for BNFL instruction

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Washington DC firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan are top of the betting order to secure the lead advisory roles if British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) proceeds with the loudly speculated sale of its US business Westinghouse.

BNFL company secretary and group legal director Alvin Shuttleworth said that if the sale proceeds, it is likely that Sutherland partner Mark Herlach will be instructed as lead external counsel, assisted by Freshfields partner Jonathan Isted (pictured) on the competition and European aspects.

Isted has a longstanding relationship with BNFL, while Herlach managed to wrestle the company away from previous US advisers Morgan Lewis after he impressed Shuttleworth during a beauty parade in 1998 for BNFL’s acquisition of Westinghouse.

It seems likely that all firms will have to play second fiddle to BNFL’s more than capable in-house legal department. After all, it is unlikely that Shuttleworth, who is adamant that he will oversee the sale, will allow too many aspects to be farmed out, especially when the speculated sale would include the Westinghouse section of his legal department.