European bank cuts panel for advice in East to cut costs

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is cutting the number of firms it uses for English and local law advice on financing projects in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Until recently, the 20 or so in-house lawyers at the EBRD had not co-ordinated the way in which they chose firms. In an effort to cut costs and build up relationships, the bank is tendering for a panel of seven or eight firms for the next two years.

Interested firms had until last Tuesday to submit bids for the work, the total value of which is thought to be at least £10m.

The bank asked firms to summarise their English and local law capabilities and indicated it was looking for specific expertise in natural resources, telecommunications, transport infrastructure, power and municipal finance.

A number of firms have worked for the EBRD in the past. Freshfields is currently acting for the bank in closing a $850m financing of the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, set up to explore and develop oil and gas fields off the Russian far east coast.

The Lawyer understands Freshfields has put in a bid, but the firm refused to comment.

Other firms who have worked for the ERBD include Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance and US firm Coudert Brothers.

A spokesperson for the office of the General Counsel said that a short list of firms would be drawn up in the next few weeks. Emmanuel Maurice, deputy General Counsel and in charge of short-listing candidates, declined to comment.