Simmons wins Barclays job ahead of panel review

Simmons & Simmons has been instructed by Barclays Bank on its £35m acquisition of broker Charles Schwab Europe.

The appointment comes as Barclays reviews its entire panel for external legal advisers, a process that will be completed over the next few months. The bank is also combing the market for a new general counsel to replace Howard Trust, who announced his retirement last September.

Execution-only broker Charles Schwab will be merged with Barclays Stockbrokers, currently the UK's biggest retail broker. Last year, US company Charles Schwab Corporation decided to sell off its investments in non-US dollar-based broking. However, the company says its UK dollar-based business will continue to grow.

Simmons, a Barclays panel firm, has historically advised Barclays Stockbrockers. The firm has also handled almost all of the Barclays Group's competition work since it advised on the Competition Commission's investigation into the small and medium-sized enterprises banking sector.

Simmons' Barclays relationship partner is Richard Slater, but the Charles Schwab deal was led by financial markets partner Sarah Bowles, who spent six months on secondment at the bank from August 2000. She worked alongside Martin Creek and Anne Ramsay from the in-house legal team. Bowles said: “Barclays is a key client for Simmons and we're delighted to have advised on this transaction.”

The broker, a subsidiary of US-based Charles Schwab Corporation, was represented by long-time adviser Freshfields, with relationship partner Vanessa Knapp leading the deal. Once Charles Schwab is fully integrated with Barclays Stockbrokers, Freshfields will lose some work. The magic circle firm is not on Barclays' general panel and Charles Schwab will be expected to stick to panel firms. However, Freshfields has worked for the US parent company since it set up in the UK in 1995 and will continue to advise Charles Schwab Corporation's UK dollar-based business.