Lovells advises London Underground PFI bidder

Lovells is tipped to work on London Underground's £2bn PFI initiative if first-time client Trilliam's bid for the project is successful.

The firm was offered the work after Trilliam's usual adviser Freshfields had to withdraw because of a conflict of interests.

Lovells is acting for the consortium which is made up of Trilliam and Land Securities.

The project – entitled London Underground Property Partnership – involves the development and management of the company's non-operational property across the entire network.

The invitations to tender closed at the end of January and the shortlist for bidders is expected to be revealed within the next two weeks.

Perry Noble, banking and project finance partner at Freshfields, says the firm is already acting for London Underground on the project.

“The decision to act on the property project was taken because we are already acting on another project, the PPP (public private partnership) project,” he says.

“It was not a natural progression to act for Trilliam because it is very difficult to split the role.”

However, Noble says the firm is acting for Trilliam on the Inland Revenue's Strategic Transfer of the Estate to the Private Sector (Steps) initiative.

It is understood that Lovells picked up the work after it acted for the Government on the DSS Prime project in 1997.

Trilliam, at the time represented by Freshfields, was part of a consortium which won the right to run the accommodation and services for the DSS estate over 20 years.

Sources say the company was impressed by Lovells and approached it to advise it on the latest project.

It is understood Robert Kidby, head of property at Lovells, is heading the deal, but it is unclear if Trilliam will use the firm again. One source says: “It will use them in the short-term.”

The Freshfields team is headed by property partner Graham Prentice.