JP Morgan has carried out a massive overhaul of its advisers to set up its first UK-specialised capital markets panel, with a number of top City firms failing to make the grade.
In a shock move, Weil Gotshal & Manges and Ashurst Morris Crisp have both been sidelined following a 10-firm beauty parade. Other firms, including Slaughter and May, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, Norton Rose and Herbert Smith, were excluded from the pitch despite having existing links with the bank. Firms on the panel include Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance, Linklaters & Alliance and White & Case. It is understood that Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy was also asked to pitch, although it is not known whether the firm has been successful. The biggest surprise is the omission of Slaughters from the original shortlist. Historically, Slaughters has strong links with JP Morgan, so its exclusion is being seen as a snub to the firm. However, it is understood that Slaughters continues to have a strong relationship with other areas of the bank. Also reeling from JP Morgan's decision are Herbert Smith and Ashursts. Herbert Smith recruited the bank's former general counsel Jim Wickenden two years ago and hired former Sidley Austin partner Jane Borrows last year in a bid to firm up the JP Morgan relationship. Ashursts also targeted JP Morgan work by hiring Weil Gotshal partner and collateralised debt obligation (CDO) specialist Erica Handling in March this year. JP Morgan has not been keen to set up formal panels in the past, and it is understood that the panel is being pushed through by Chase Manhattan Bank following last year's takeover. JP Morgan's securitisation head Jonathan Loredo is in charge of the selection process, which is believed to be ongoing. The panel does not include all areas of capital markets, focusing instead on specialised structured finance products such as high-yield debt and future flow securitisations. JP Morgan declined to comment on the panel, but a spokesperson claimed: "All existing relationships with outside counsel in capital markets will continue unchanged."