Freshfields rejected as SWIP opts for Dundas

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has been cast aside by longstanding client Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) on the development of a new landmark property trust in favour of Dundas & Wilson.

The Scottish firm won a tender for the establishment of the £630m property unit trust – one of the first of its kind in the UK – after beating firms including Freshfields and Dickson Minto.

Historically, SWIP has had a solid relationship with Freshfields, using the firm for the majority of its high-level English-based funds work.

But Dundas has been steadily developing its relationship with the investment manager and has been branching out from its traditional post as Scottish adviser for SWIP to take on English matters as well.

For example, the firm acted for SWIP on the creation and ongoing management of its last investment vehicle, the UK Balanced Property Trust.

The firm’s latest appointment as key adviser on the SWIP Property Trust shows its growing esteem with SWIP – it also won a tender against firms including Macfarlanes to advise on the property aspects of the unit trust.

The SWIP Property Trust represents one of the first vehicles to be established under new Financial Services Authority rules, which enable the creation of a new class of authorised property unit trusts that can be 100 per cent invested in direct property.

Dundas property partner Donald Shaw, who led the firm’s largely London-based team advising on the creation of the trust, explained that the work involved moving more than 70 properties into the unit trust from existing Scottish Widows funds.

“Only 32 per cent of the property involved was Scottish work and the rest was English,” said Shaw.

SWIP’s principal advisers are Dundas, Freshfields, Macfarlanes, Maclay Murray & Spens and Nabarro Nathanson.