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National Australia Group (NAG) has finally set up its first panel of preferred law firms for its European group following a protracted 18-month tender process.
The three firms to win key roles are Dundas & Wilson, Addleshaw Booth & Co and CMS Cameron McKenna. Members of NAG in Europe are Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank, the Belfast-based Northern Bank and the National Irish Bank. There are believed to be between 10 and 20 firms from the UK and Ireland on the panel. However, firms not on the panel may still be used for particular areas of expertise. Both Addleshaws and Camerons have historical connections to NAG. Came-rons' dates back to the bank's inception in 1860, while Addleshaws has links with Yorkshire Bank dating back to before it was bought by NAG. However, NAG's relationship with Dundas is far more recent. Despite having strong connections with Scotland since it bought Clydesdale in 1987, it has tended to use McGrigor Donald. Last year National Australia Bank (NAB) appointed McGrigors as its sole mainland UK employment provider, and not to be selected as a relationship firm will come as a blow. Senior general counsel for NAG Europe Jane Shirran said that the tender process was designed to provide the group with the best and the most efficient legal services. "The decisions were based on the business and strategic requirements of the group in Europe," she said. "By driving a greater volume of work through a smaller number of firms, it is anticipated that we will generate cost savings and relationship benefits." Sources close to the tender bid, however, said that the panel is unlikely to have a huge impact on NAG's legal outsourcing. "I can't see that anything has changed very much, despite us being put through a torturous tender process," said one partner. "The three key relationship firms all do a substantial amount of work for the bank already."