Herbert Smith tops PFI projects' league

The big five City firms have been pipped at the post by Herbert Smith when it comes to private finance initiative work, according to the first-ever PFI league table, produced by newsletter The PFI Report.

The City firm has advised on 38 PFI projects with a value of more than £5 million, the largest number claimed by any firm, and also has the largest number of projects signed – 13.

City giant Slaughter and May is way behind at number 14 with only nine projects in total and three signed. Largely regional firm Dibb Lupton Alsop is at number three, behind Linklaters & Paines but ahead of Freshfields at four, and Allen & Overy at five in the table for total deals.

Andrew Preece, head of projects at Herbert Smith, said: “I have no doubt our lead arises out of the fact that we identified PFI as an important area of new work early on.”

He said partners Jason Fox and Nicholas Tott, who handle most of the PFI work for the firm, were seconded for six months and 18 months respectively, to the executive of the PFI panel, which promotes PFI, shortly after it was formed two years ago.

The government has been promoting PFI as a way of getting companies to build and run public buildings and services under long-term leases from public bodies.

The scheme appears to have worked well for simple infrastructure projects like roads, with several projects already signed. But so far only one hospital PFI schemes has been signed and education projects have yet to see the light of day.