Global food conglomerate Heinz has drastically cut its roster of external law firms from more than 50 to just three, following a Europe-wide panel review.
The panel review began in autumn 2011, when the firm invited around 50 firms it used on an ad hoc basis to tender for spots on the panel. At the time, Heinz’s European general counsel Janice More told The Lawyer: “Our intention in doing the tender is to get a much closer relationship with the firms we use. We’re looking to develop on the legal side the same sort of arrangement that we have in procurement generally.
“Our focus is being in partnership with our external advisers and innovation in terms of billing. All of the firms that act for us are of the highest quality.”
A spokesperson from Heinz, however, declined to comment on the completed panel review.
Eversheds and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have a history advising Heinz on general commercial and IP matters, and food law and litigation, respectively.
Notable firms that Heinz has used in the past that did not make it onto the panel include Clifford Chance, which the company used on corporate transactions, like the sale of its European seafood business in 2006 to Lehman Brothers, and Allen & Overy, from which Heinz often sought tax advice.
None of the three chosen firms would comment on their appointment.