SJ Berwin hangs in limbo with iii

SJ Berwin‘s position on online personal investment company Interactive Investor International’s (iii) panel is in doubt.

A source close to iii has revealed that SJ Berwin, also a shareholder in the internet company, has been dropped from its list of preferred legal advisers following a review. The review was conducted after head of legal and compliance Anil Ravel joined iii from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, where he was counsel in the law and compliance department (The Lawyer, 13 March).

Another source close to the internet company says that iii decided to drop SJ Berwin because its costs were high.

The panel is now made up of Stephenson Harwood, Herbert Smith, Shearman & Sterling, Bird & Bird and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert.

At the time of Raval’s arrival in March, iii had just undergone a flotation on the London Stock Exchange’s techMark listing.

In March, Tomás Carruthers, chief executive at iii, said that the company was “highly reliant” on SJ Berwin for corporate contracting and regulatory advice. SJ Berwin acted for iii on its flotation in February.

However, while Raval refuses to confirm that SJ Berwin has been dropped, the firm has acted on only two minor matters for the internet company since the flotation. But the source close to the company is adamant that the firm is not being used anymore.

It was through its involvement in iii’s float in February that SJ Berwin became a shareholder in the company through a system of “sweat equity”, which was organised six months before the flotation went through.

Martin Bowen, head of e-commerce and corporate partner at SJ Berwin, confirms that the firm holds shares in the company. However, he says that the firm still counts iii as one of its clients.

See Client File, pages 30-31