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GIB UK’s head of legal Dominic Bacon said that the decision to drop the firm from the panel was due to a “personality clash” between himself and the head of Dechert’s financial services and investment management group, Peter Astleford. He said that it was not due to the quality of the firm’s work.
Astleford told The Lawyer that the move followed a change in personnel at GIB UK and said Bacon’s decision was regrettable, but added that he expects the firm to be maintained by the existing funds.
Dechert was appointed by Bacon’s predecessor David Bailey as GIB UK’s sole legal adviser on hedge funds work two years ago.
Following Bacon’s arrival at GIB UK in early 2002 Bailey moved to Ansbacher, which is part of the South African FirstRand Banking Group. Astleford said that after his move, Bailey appointed Dechert to advise Ansbacher predominantly on the administration of its existing hedge funds.
Bacon is in the process of seeking a replacement for Dechert and has invited the remaining panel firms to pitch for a place. Additionally, he is in discussions with Linklaters, Simmons & Simmons and New York firm Akin Gump.
Bacon said: “GIB UK is too small to be an attractive new client for magic circle firms, but in relation to hedge funds work, GIB UK would be an attractive client. In 2003, the bank will be launching at least three new hedge funds, of which one will be a fund of funds.”
And according to Bacon, GIB UK’s 2003 hedge fund legal budget is £500,000, which equals more than 50 per cent of the bank’s legal spend.