Stephenson Harwood in HSBC-iSPL outsourcing

Stephenson Harwood has advised HSBC on the outsourcing of its entire cheque and credit clearing business to Intelligent Processing Solutions Ltd (iSPL), a subsidiary of Unisys, in a deal believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
A team of 10 lawyers worked non-stop for seven months on the project, completing it at the end of last November. The team was led by James Robertson, the firm's head of business technology.
The project involved the transfer of more than 2,000 employees and equipment from seven processing centres across the country, creating a wide range of legal issues. These included property and commercial matters, the transfer of employee pay and pension systems and competition issues.
The move gives HSBC a significant percentage of the cheque clearing market.
UK general counsel for Unisys Sandra Teichman led the team of in-house lawyers for iSPL.
Stephenson Harwood is a member of the bank's eight-strong panel, which was rigorously reviewed last May.
In a bid to reduce fees, HSBC group general manager for legal compliance Richard Bennett demanded a global discount. In return, panel members – including Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters – were promised the chance to pitch for work outside London.
Robertson said he thought his firm had been chosen to advise on the project because it tended to advise on “most of the bank's business technology-related work”.
Following an informal pitch last year, Stephenson Harwood's employment and pensions group advised HSBC on the outsourcing of its cash processing business. The firm also acted for the $1bn (£708.3m) Merrill Lynch-HSBC joint venture on the establishment of its global internet banking operation.
Allen & Overy has also advised HSBC on some of its internet-related projects in recent years. These include the setting up of the bank's internet offering HSBC.com in 2000, as well as its partnership with Yahoo! in August 2001, which launched an international payment system that enabled money to be transferred by email directly.
Bennett at HSBC said the bank was impressed by Stephenson Harwood's work, adding that HSBC is not planning another panel review for some time.