Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) will retain its position as sole corporate adviser to Severn Trent Water for another three years.
HSF fought off five other firms to keep the work and will operate alongside Eversheds Sutherland, the water provider’s primary day-to-day external adviser.
The firm was commended for “demonstrating that it will meet high service standards and provide value for money to Severn Trent”.
Severn Trent general counsel and company secretary Bronagh Kennedy said: “We are delighted with the new commitments being offered by HSF to deliver great value for money to the Severn Trent group. We are excited to continue our relationship with HSF over the term of the contract.”
The firm and Severn Trent have a long-standing relationship with HSF corporate partner Stephen Wilkinson acting on several deals for the company. The relationship between Wilkinson and the company actually dates back to at least 2003. That year, Wilkinson advised on the group’s takeover of East Worcester Water. He also led for Severn Trent on its £141m acquisition of RMC Group’s Hales Waste a decade later and the company’s demerger from Biffa in 2006.
Wilkinson’s most high-profile deal came in 2013 when he and partner Robert Moore led for the firm when it was the subject of a £5bn bid from a Canadian, Kuwaiti and UK consortium which was advised by Allen & Overy.
Since 2007, Severn Trent has been moving away from traditional panel arrangements, instead favouring sole provider models. The first example came when Severn Trent appointed legacy Eversheds as sole provider to its day-to-day work, echoing its then-recently signed deal with construction firm Tyco.
Due to the success of its arrangement with legacy Eversheds, the FTSE 100 company abandoned its panel review, preferring the “substantial” package offered by the firm. That contract was awarded in 2015 for an extended period of five years, expiring in 2020.
Eversheds Sutherland secured another significant water provider mandate at the end of 2017, being named as sole adviser for Thames Water’s managed legal services until 2023. Berwin Leighton Paisner was bumped from the mandate, but its successor Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner continues to advise Thames Water in other capacities.