Outsourcing teams cash in on BBC and BT property deals

Outsourcing specialists are witnessing a rush of activity as the financial year is coming to an end and as the BBC and British Telecommunications (BT) reach crucial stages in deals that will revolutionise their relationships with their property portfolios.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has enjoyed a double win. Its client Land Securities Trillium was appointed as preferred bidder for the BBC’s property partnership with the private sector. It was also one of two shortlisted bidders for the divestment of BT’s £2bn UK property estate. Freshfields real estate partner James George and finance partner David Ereira were lead partners on both bids.

Lovells client Foresite Consortium, comprising Amey Group and CIT Group, becomes reserve bidder on the BBC deal.

Development of the BBC White City site in London is the first project in the proposed partnership. The BBC’s planned redevelopment of Broadcasting House in London, and its new headquarters in Scotland, could also follow.

The full extent of the partnership is subject to further negotiation, which in turn demands a level of flexibility unprecedented in previous property outsourcing deals, such as the Department of Social Security’s outsourcing deal Prime.

George says: “From a purely property legal point of view, it means that you have to cater for the BBC to put properties into the partnership in numerous different ways during the next 30 years.

“The BBC sees this as a genuine partnership with Land Securities Trillium. If it’s successful, the partnership will run the BBC’s property requirements.”

Freshfields is now working out the details of the contract with the BBC, advised by Linklaters & Alliance.

The BBC’s announcement came a day before BT announced its choice of preferred bidders. Linklaters partner James Knox is understood to be leading a team advising the Mapeley bid for BT’s portfolio. Ashurst Morris Crisp is advising BT.

BT’s head of property Alan White says that there is now “an enormous amount of analysis to be done”, before the preferred bidder stage is reached. He adds: “It’s difficult to say what the timing will be.”

The announcements coincide with the latest stage in the Post Office’s search for a joint venture partner for its facilities management arm Romec. An official OJEC notice was published last week.

Lovells was appointed in January to advise the Post Office on the deal after a beauty parade in January. Real estate partner Nicholas Cheffings is leading the team.