JPMorgan axes Links from panel after litigation row

JPMorgan axes Links from panel after litigation rowJPMorgan has ditched Linklaters from its list of preferred advisers following a row over the magic circle firm’s role in suing Bear Stearns on behalf of ­Barclays Bank.

Linklaters’ New York ­litigation team, led by US head Larry Byrne, has been representing Barclays since December 2007 on its ­lawsuit ;against ;Bear Stearns, now owned by JPMorgan.

Barclays has alleged fraud, conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty, claiming that Bear Stearns lied about the performance of one of two hedge funds that collapsed last summer.

Although Linklaters is understood to have explored the possibility of quitting the suit against Bear Stearns, such an action would ­contravene New York bar rules.

It is understood that ­Linklaters senior partner David Cheyne was keen to mend the breach with the bank, but ruled out trying to abandon the case at JPMorgan’s behest.

A source close to the discussions told The Lawyer: “Cheyne took a stand – you can’t just drop a client.”

JPMorgan communicated its decision to ditch ­Linklaters from its panel last week.
A Linklaters source said: “With the benefit of hindsight we wouldn’t have sued Bear Stearns, but at the time people were comfortable with it.”

JPMorgan’s move will come as a particular blow to Linklaters’ London finance department, which has cultivated the New York-headquartered financial services giant among others over the past few years to take it to an elite position in banking and acquisition finance.

Some 20 per cent of the firm’s global revenue is derived from 10 financial institutions, of which JPMorgan is one.

The news comes as the suit against Bear Stearns moved up a gear last week, when two former bankers were federally indicted.

Both executives were named in the Barclays suit, which was itself amended last week to take account of recent developments in the investigation.

JPMorgan and Linklaters declined ;to ;comment.