Firms to fight for places on merged Lloyds-HBOS panel

Lloyds TSB has taken its first steps towards setting up a groupwide panel ­following its merger with HBOS last year.

The bank is understood to have decided that a joint panel is necessary and has begun canvassing firms about the prospect.

The news is likely to spark fierce competition among the regular advisers of both Lloyds and HBOS for places on what would be one of the most prestigious ­panels in the UK.

Linklaters corporate ­partner Jeremy Parr has been the first port of call for Lloyds throughout the banking crisis, advising on the HBOS merger and on a £4bn share issue in May.

Allen & Overy (A&O) is key counsel to HBOS, led by relationship partner and financial institutions head Alistair Asher.

A senior internal source at Lloyds said: “We’ve got ideas as to how we’d like the panel to go forward and we’ve taken soundings from some firms. It’s in the early stages.”

It is understood that head of operations Julie ­Thorburn is overseeing the process, although the bank has not yet taken official applications from law firms.

Following the HBOS merger in September last year there was no indication that Lloyds intended to set up a joint panel.

The bank completed its own panel review shortly after the £12bn tie-up, awarding places in January to A&O, CMS Cameron McKenna, Denton Wilde Sapte, Eversheds, Norton Rose, Linklaters and Lovells.

Lloyds did, however, bring together the management of the two legal teams following the takeover.

Former HBOS company secretary Harry Baines was appointed as the top lawyer of Lloyds Banking Group in October last year.

Lloyds general counsel for group legal Kate Cheetham saw her role extended to cover the entire group, while former HBOS head of group legal Brian Fisher became head of legal integration.

A City banking partner told The Lawyer: “Lloyds hasn’t appointed a combined panel yet. It’s asked firms to supply information.”

Linklaters also has close links with HBOS, advising Halifax before the merger with Bank of Scotland (BoS) created the HBOS group. Herbert Smith acted for BoS.