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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Siemens Business Services on its £2bn sale and outsourcing deal with BBC Technology despite conflict of interest concerns raised by senior partner Anthony Salz’s position as vice-chairman of the broadcaster.
Siemens appointed Freshfields in May and Salz was appointed in August. The deal concluded last week.
“It was agreed with the BBC that Anthony’s role would not preclude us from advising or representing third parties in relation to BBC work,” said a Freshfields spokesperson.
As a member of the BBC’s board of governors, Salz must excuse himself from any deliberations over a contract that Freshfields is advising on.
A BBC source said: “The BBC was aware of the potential conflicts issue. If it was an issue, it may have been more of an issue for Siemens rather than the BBC.”
The two-part deal involved the acquisition by Siemens Holdings of the BBC Technology group of companies for £150m. The outsourcing contract, worth almost £2bn over 10 years, is the largest so far in 2004.
Freshfields corporate partner Chris Bown advised on the sale. Technology partner Natasha Good and procurement partner Sally Roe led the Freshfields team working on the outsourcing transaction.
Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) had to clear a conflict issue of its own with Accenture, one of its biggest clients, before accepting instructions from the BBC. Accenture was Siemens’ rival bidder for the contract.
The BBC’s head of corporate legal Jane Vizard led the BBC line-up, which involved FFW partners Andrew Bankfield and Laurence Lumb working with BBC lawyer Peter Ranyard on the corporate aspects of the deal, with FFW’s Nigel Wildish and Justin Harrington working on the outsourcing contract.