BOC counsel defies odds to head merged legal team

BOC Group’s legal chief has been spared the axe as the resurgence of M&A activity results in sweeping changes in the legal departments of some of the UK’s largest companies.

Despite the takeover by Germany’s Linde, the industrial gases giant’s legal director Nick Deeming secured the role to head the combined businesses’ in-house legal function after the merger was completed last week. His first task will be to sort out his external advisers.

Deeming told The Lawyer: “As in any acquisition or merger there’s always a thirst for synergies and savings. I’ll be carrying out a significant review of our external legal advisers on a global basis.”

Deeming’s appointment will result in a major review of the merged company’s 55-lawyer in-house legal team, in addition to the review of external legal advisers.

BOC’s principal law firm is Slaughter and May, which advised the company on the takeover by Linde. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Linde. Linde’s legal chief Lothar Dressel, who competed against Deeming for the top job, is understood to be considering his options.

There have also been changes in the Boots’ legal team following the company’s £7bn merger with Alliance UniChem. Alliance’s general counsel Marco Pagni secured the top legal job at the merged company and is launching the entity’s first formal legal panel.