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Lovells has beaten a number of City rivals to scoop an instruction to advise on one of the largest and most complex public private partnerships (PPP) currently in the European market.
The firm is acting for the Galileo Joint Undertaking, a body jointly owned by the EU and the European Space Agency, to implement a €3.3bn (£2.21bn) satellite navigation system for principally civil purposes.
Ashurst and Simmons & Simmons also participated in the beauty parade, as well as, it is understood, Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS), Linklat-ers and some US firms.
Galileo’s decision to instruct Lovells is likely to be a huge blow to DWS as the firm was instructed, in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, by the EU to carry out feasibility studies on the project.
Lovells won the mandate because the firm advised the European Aeronautic De-fence and Space Company in relation to the recently completed Skynet 5 satellite communications PPP project, which provides satellite communications services to the UK Ministry of Defence.
Charles Robson, the Lovells project finance partner who is leading the team advising Galileo, said: “We have what is probably a unique set of experience given our involvement in Skynet 5. That combined with our track record in advising on PPPs and PFIs made us a very strong contender.”
There are three consortia of companies competing to participate in the second stage of the project. The first consortium is Eutelsat, which consists of Aena, Eutelsat, Hispasat, and LogicaCMG. The second iNavSat, comprises EADS Space, Inmarsat Group Holdings and Thales. The final group is Eurely, which includes Alcatel, Finmeccanica and Vinci Concessions.
The preferred bidder is expected to be announced in December. The Galileo project will ultimately involve the launch of 30 satellites into three geostationary orbits, and associated ground infrastructure.
An Ashurst spokesperson said: “We were disappointed not to win the work, but we’re confident that other suitable opportunities will arise for Ashurst on the project.”