BLP scoops Ascent’s bid for MoD contract

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has been announced as the surprise winner of a pitch to advise the Ascent consortium, which is bidding for the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) UK Military Flying Training System (MFTS) public-private partnership contract.

BLP fought off competition from five other firms – Bevan Ashford, DLA, Eversheds, Linklaters and White & Case – and won three new clients in the process.

The firm has not previously acted for any of the companies that make up the consortium, which includes Lockheed Martin, VT Group and Rolls-Royce.

Commenting on BLP’s win, VT Group commercial director Rod Fielder said: “If you look at the top 10 or 15 firms, they’re all going to do a good, professional job, but they [BLP] did give an excellent presentation.”

The BLP team is led by finance head Simon Allan and projects partner Richard Lucas. The firm, which has been raising its profile in the sector, has previously advised AWSR Shipping on the £950m Strategic Sealift project. Other defence clients of the firm include Amec, Bouygues, Costain, Jarvis and the Lex Group (now RAC).

Ascent is one of three bidders tendering for the contract. The other two, Thales & Boeing and Kellogg Brown & Root, have not yet appointed external advisers. The deal is still in the very early stages and a decision on the winning bidder will not be made until 2006.

Simmon & Simmons partner Richard Armitage is advising the MoD.