The pitch of the year: Apple seeks sole European legal adviser

Apple Retail, the division of the iconic computer manufacturer’s business that is responsible for all its stores, has launched a search for a sole external adviser for Europe, in what will be one of the hardest-fought tenders of the year.

The business, which sells trendy gadgetry including the iPhone and the iPod, has sent out tender documents to a number of firms to advise on non-property legal services with a deadline of tomorrow (30 June) for proposal requests.

A source at one firm said: “They’re very sophisticated purchasers – they know instances where they want several legal advisers and instances where they want a single adviser.”

Firms that have advised Apple across a number of areas in the past include Baker & McKenzie, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Jones Day.

Apple Retail operates a streamlined in-house legal function, having just one lawyer for the Europe, Middle East and Asia region in UK-based Elaine Hutton.

As a result, in recent months it has sought external advice on a number of areas, including corporate, competition, general retail, product warranty, third liaison and government work, regulatory, health and safety, employment, litigation and shareholder disputes.

A source with knowledge of Apple Retail said: “It’s always been a very lean legal function – a lot is ­centralised at HQ in the US and there’s a lean staff internationally, but having a single external adviser would be quite unusual.”

Apple declined to comment on the appointment.