Slaughter and May has worked some magic with Goldman Sachs. It is not every law firm that can act against a powerful US investment bank on über-hostile bids such as Six Continents and Marks & Spencer (M&S) and yet still get lucrative referrals from the same source.
On the M&S bid, the retailer’s chief executive Stuart Rose was at one stage contemplating a defamation action against Goldman, which was advising bidder Philip Green.
Although Slaughters was one step removed (Olswang was brought in to advise Rose), it is fair to say that the partners leading on the deal, Nigel Boardman and Andy Ryde, ruffled a fair few feathers at Goldman.
The same pair advised Hugh Osmond on his bid for Six Contintents, during which Osmond considered injuncting Goldman over a conflict of interest. Again the hostilities were second hand, as Pinsents advised on the legal action. But Goldman was not happy with the Slaughters duo.
And yet Goldman’s private equity team – the very same team that threw its weight behind Green – sent Slaughters head of corporate Chris Saul the KKR mandate on the Warner Chilcott auction. Slaughters has been courting the US private equity house for some time.
Slaughters sources say, post-M&S, it is “fair to say we’ve reached out to Goldman”, and it seems to have worked. Some Goldman bankers might even consider using Boardman because of his reputation, said one source.
It’s a fair bet, though, that if Goldman’s bankers go over to Bunhill Row for lunch, Boardman will not be at the table.
Cisco is the latest company to jump on the DuPont bandwagon with its choice of a single law firm to cover all its needs. Eversheds, the sole firm for both companies, is evangelical about the concept, but DuPont launched its model in 1992, so why haven’t more companies followed suit?
It was only a year ago that a senior Cisco in-houser said that one firm could not fit all its needs, but that viewpoint has changed. Obviously, a company that is thought to spend only around £500,000 a year on corporate, commercial, licensing and procurement can find one sole firm.
Royal Bank of Scotland took a thorough look at its use of law firms last year. With a legal budget running into millions and syndicated loans and securitisations to deal with, it is unlikely the word ‘DuPont’ was even whispered.
The Lawyer understands that at least one of Cisco’s regular firms did not pitch as the discount demanded did not make it worthwhile. The moral is that partnering certainly works, but only for certain firms and certain companies.
There are a number of disgruntled partners at Pinsents – and surprisingly it has nothing to do with its marriage to Masons. They have been so preoccupied preparing for the merger to go live on 6 December, they have not had enough time to declare and pay out their own bonuses.
Under Pinsents’ remuneration system, all partners are eligible for a performance-related bonus of up to £70,000. The bonus should have been declared and paid by now but has been delayed, causing a fair bit of grumbling. Let’s hope those Pinsents partners don’t start blaming their new Masons colleagues before the merger has even happened.
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