HSBC demands global discount from City firms

Firms on the panel of HSBC Holdings could scoop a huge influx of international work after being accepted as the client's preferred global advisers.

Each firm had to submit a tender to Bennett outlining their discount proposals before they were accepted.

The eight firms used by HSBC in London were asked to pitch to the bank before Christmas, and each has won a place on a new global panel.

The panel consists of Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters & Alliance, Nabarro Nathanson, Norton Rose and Stephenson Harwood.

Until now, the firms' practices outside the UK were not automatically members of HSBC panels in those countries, unless they had pitched to the bank locally.

Richard Bennett, group general manager for legal and compliance at HSBC, says: “For many years we have had panels around the world, and we had a rule which said that just because a firm on the panel had an office in another country, it didn't automatically mean that office went on that panel.

“We spent some time last year looking at the legal panel in London and decided that with the global expansion of the firms, if they were willing to give us a global discount like we get from those firms in London, we'd give them an opportunity to pitch for work outside London.”

The firms are given no guarantee that they will get work, but they will have instantly crossed the first barrier of getting onto the panel in other jurisdictions. The onus will still be on the firms to make contact with the in-house legal teams outside London before they will be given the opportunity to pitch

There are no other firms on the global panel because, Bennett says, with the exception of US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, the rest of the firms HSBC uses worldwide are not particularly global..

Bennett says: “Hopefully this strengthens the relationships with the London firms and gives us maybe slightly more control. “

He says the situation will be reviewed in the first year.