Hammond Suddards Edge's Birmingham office has won out against Eversheds to act as legal adviser to the trustees of the Land Rover pension fund.
A team at Hammonds, led by the head of the Birmingham pensions unit Ian Forrest and aided by Georgina Rankin and Philip Sutton, will be responsible for advising the trustees, appointed by both Land Rover employers and employees, on a number of areas that will include regulatory issues.
Hammonds and Eversheds were the only two local firms asked to tender for the work. However, a source close to Wragge & Co says that the firm is puzzled as to why it was not asked to pitch for the role.
The pension scheme was set up by a team from Lovells after BMW sold off Land Rover to Ford Motor Company last year. The team was led by pensions partner Stephen Ito with assistant Roderick Morton.
Ito says: “Because of the disposal, Rover and Ford agreed that Land Rover would have to have a comparable scheme with Rover. Each member [of Land Rover] had accrued liability and assets.”
Pauline Anning, a pensions partner at Hammonds, says it is not possible to say how much the work will be worth to the firm. “It's really early on in the relationship and it's not really repeated work,” she says. “If you get it right the first time round you don't have to do it again, and it's our duty to keep the costs down for the client.”
The intention to sell off Land Rover to Ford first emerged in March last year when BMW announced its plan to break up Rover. The company was sold off in May to Phoenix, a group made up of local businessmen, which were advised at the time by Eversheds (The Lawyer, 29 May).