Simmons & Simmons beat eight law firms to advise the Ministry of Defence on the privatisation of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).
DERA conducts research and gives advice to support the development and procurement of defence systems and equipment. The government decided earlier this year to investigate public/private partnership options for the agency to help raise money for public spending.
Simmons will initially work on developing recommendations to Ministers, with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Warburg Dillon Read, and will work on implementation of recommendations over three years.
Simmons' commercial partner Richard Armitage says: “DERA will be a pathfinder project for the Government's emerging policy on PPPs. Our privatisation and PFI experience were crucial aspects of our success, as was our ability to work as a team – not only amongst ourselves but also as part of the client's integrated project team, including other advisers.”
DERA's extensive assets include weapons testing ranges, laboratories, satellite facilities and 31,250 acres of land. Last year the Farnborough-based agency made £40.6m profit with a turnover of £1bn and £108m in sales alone, and earns £15m a year licensing liquid crystal technology to the Japanese.