City’s top firms mop up the banking mess

City’s top firms mop up the banking messWhen it comes to the UK’s banking crisis, if you are not part of the City’s elite it is unlikely that you will win a key role.

Slaughter and May has long established itself as the Government’s adviser of choice – if there is even a sniff of a banking problem, the Treasury will be straight on the phone to partners Nigel Boardman or Charles Randell.

Last week Randell was called in to advise on the Government’s asset protection programme as well as the latest Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bailout, while Boardman led the team behind the £50bn rescue package announced last October.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is also assured of a steady stream of work, with its age-old relationship with the Bank of England (BoE) leading to numerous instructions over the past few months.

Partners Michael Raffan and Karen Fountain advised the bank on October’s bailout, with Raffan and a team including senior ­partner Guy Morton, global head of finance Alan Newton, antitrust, competition and trade partner Andrew Renshaw and corporate partner Mac Mackenzie getting the nod on the latest scheme.

Slaughters and Freshfields have been at the forefront since the banking sector’s problems began, with the former advising the ­Government throughout the problems experienced with Northern Rock, while the latter was there for the Newcastle bank throughout its nationalisation. Due to Freshfields’ role for the mortgage lender, the BoE turned to fellow magic circle firm Clifford Chance.

Clifford Chance, which has had a close relationship with Barclays for some time, was handed a key mandate by the bank last September when a team led by corporate partner Guy Norman worked alongside US firm Cleary Gottleib Steen & Hamilton on the ­acquisition of Lehman Brothers’ investment banking and capital markets arms.

At Linklaters corporate ­partner Matthew Middeditch and his team have been kept busy, with RBS jumping from rights issue to bailout to Bank of China
sell-off and back to bailout.

Fellow Linklaters partner ­Jeremy Parr was instructed by Lloyds TSB on its rescue bid for struggling mortgage lender HBOS. That deal, which was announced last September and given the ­ultimate go-ahead earlier this month, also provided a role for Allen & Overy, with corporate ­partners Alistair Asher and David Broadley leading for HBOS.

Herbert Smith has also seen some of the banking action, with Bradford & Bingley turning to ­corporate head Michael Walter first for advice on a rights issue, then for guidance when it was part-nationalised last September.

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