Lastminute.com dumps Linklaters as main adviser

Herbert Smith wins corporate top spot; Bird & Bird continues as main adviser

Lastminute.com has dropped Linklaters from its group of main legal advisers. The dotcom has just appointed Herbert Smith as its principal corporate adviser following a competitive tender involving three firms. Linklaters, which advised lastminute.com on its initial public offering, was not invited to tender for the corporate work.
Lastminute.com company secretary Simon Watkins said: “Our relationship with Linklaters had come to a natural end. Linklaters did mainly company secretarial work for us before I joined as company secretary, and then the firm advised on the IPO.”
Watkins told The Lawyer that Linklaters had not strived to maintain a longstanding relationship with lastminute.com after the company went public. “They didn't keep us warm. Maybe they'd decided that they were not keen to work with dotcoms anymore,” he said.
However, Watkins added that Linklaters and lastminute.com's split was not an acrimonious one. “We had several discussions and parted amicably,” he said.
Watkins said that lastminute.com is a good client for a top law firm to have, for its public profile as well as the fact that it is still growing. “There'll be ongoing M&A work for Herbert Smith,” he said.
Lastminute.com has already passed a strategically significant piece of corporate work to Herbert Smith. The firm has been advising the dotcom on its £9m acquisition of Travelselect.com. Travelselect.com is an online flight provider to travel agents and the deal is the company's first major UK acquisition. Herbert Smith partner David Paterson handled the deal.
Apart from Herbert Smith, lastminute.com's main adviser is Bird & Bird. Watkins said that he did not invite any specialist technology, media and telecoms firms to tender for the corporate work.
He said he chose Herbert Smith partly for its reputation with banks and shareholders, as well as its general corporate expertise. He also said that he did not want to rely on one firm for all lastminute.com's legal work.
Linklaters was unavailable for comment.