Private equity: who refers to you in a conflict?

It’s taken months of battling through the secretive private equity industry, but today The Lawyer reveals the results of its in-depth review of this intriguing sector for law firms. Covering deals and fundraising, the report unveils the influential private-practice and in-house names in the market and profiles 35 in-house teams including those of Blackstone, Cinven, KKR and Bridgepoint.

Today’s sneak preview is one of the tasty bits. We asked private equity general counsel to pick the law firm partners they recommend, and then asked those partners to say who they refer to in a conflict. The results are revealing: Weil Gotshal & Manges’ Mike Francies, who received the most mentions from clients, would recommend Clifford Chance corporate chief Matthew Layton. Ashurst funds partner Nick Goddard picks Proskauer Rose partners Nigel van Zyl and Oliver Rochman and Gibson & Crutcher Dubai partner Chézard Ameer, while van Zyl himself would direct a client to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Jason Glover or Kirkland & Ellis partner Mark Mifsud.

On the topic of back-scratching, we bring you news of a client win for Hogan Lovells on a £50m investment in low-cost gym operator The Gym following a recommendation from sponsor Phoenix, while Linklaters and Germany’s Hengeler Mueller have taken roles for longstanding clients on Vodafone’s acquisition of German cable group Kabel Deutschland after the UK telecoms business beat off competition for the purchase from Liberty Global.

Elsewhere, Nationwide general counsel Liz Kelly reflects on the first 18 months of the building society’s legal academy, as news comes in that the mutual is facing a reported £2bn capital hole. Key advisers at Allen & Overy – where partner Richard Slynn manages the relationship – will no doubt be kept busy, even though one of the partners on the account is off to the Co-op as general counsel.

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s news of major deal instructions for Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells, and some potential legal cost-cutting at Barclays as part of its Transform Programme.