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Global food conglomerate Heinz is kicking off an extensive review of external advisers with a view to setting up a European panel in the autumn.
The company is inviting over 50 firms that it has used on an ad hoc basis over the past few years to tender for spots on the panel, and is aiming to slim down the number of external law firms to 12.
European general counsel Janice More told The Lawyer: “Our intention in doing the tender is to get a much closer relationship with the firms we use. We’re looking to develop on the legal side the same sort of arrangement that we have in procurement generally.
“Our focus is being in partnership with our external advisers and innovation in terms of billing. All of the firms that act for us are of the highest quality.”
The company’s main advisers are currently Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for food law and litigation and Eversheds for general commercial and IP matters. General counsel Janice More turned to Freshfields last year for a major project involving data migration (18 March 2011).
Other external advisers have included Allen & Overy on tax, SJ Berwin on competition and Lewis Silkin on employment and media. Heinz has also used DLA Piper and Herbert Smith in different Continental jurisdictions.
The company also used Clifford Chance on its last major corporate deals over five years ago, namely the sale of its European seafood business in 2006 to Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking and the acquisition of HP Foods from Danone in 2005 (27 June 2005).