Number crunching: Barclays

Barclays might have one of the biggest bank panels in the world, but that doesn’t prevent it from having close relationships with select firms.

Barclays general counsel Mark Harding
Barclays general counsel Mark Harding

Once upon a time those ties were largely with Lovells (now Hogan Lovells), yet equity and debt issue data points to a shift nearly 10 years ago towards the magic circle and a surprising cocktail of non-UK firms.

The Lawyer used information provider Thomson Reuters’ data on UK debt and equity issuances where Barclays or its subsidiaries were the issuers, going back to the heady days of November 1971. Almost 98 per cent of these deals were debt issues.

The data did not include acquisition finance deals or a host of other work that Thomson Reuters does not provide, so it gives us a snapshot of two areas only, namely issuer-side debt and equity issuances. This is simply because of the availability of reliable data.

Provisos aside, of 836 UK deals since 1971, 193 – or 23 per cent – involved a law firm on the issuer’s side, according to the data.

The earliest such deal was an American depository receipt by Barclays in 1987 where the UK bank hired Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and bookrunner Goldman Sachs turned to Sullivan & Cromwell.

Deal count in our data was low before the late 1980s, with the competition for work really starting in 1989. Lovells won three out of six mandates in 1989 and two out of four in 1991.

It won all five mandates on offer in both 1993 and 1994, and four out of six in 2000. But after clocking up just one deal in 2001, the Lovells name seems to disappear from the data. It does not register at all from 2002 onwards.

Sullivan & Cromwell, meanwhile, won its first Barclays issuer-side UK mandates in 1998 (two, in fact) and appears not to have looked back since. The US firm went on to win one role in each of the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006, seven in 2007, two in 2008 and four in 2009. This record slightly dropped off in 2010 and 2011, when it worked on three and two issuances respectively.

The same period saw a magic circle surge. Allen & Overy (A&O) won its first instruction in 2001 (just the one deal), and subsequently acted on 18 deals between 2005 and 2007, and two in 2011.

Clifford Chance, similarly, won work for the first time in 2002, advising on three deals, and then secured a virtual stranglehold that saw it win an average of nearly 12 deals per year between 2001 and 2011. But Simpson Thacher’s deal count dropped off. It appears to have won its last mandate in 1991.

Canadian firm Blake Cassels & Graydon and Japanese outfit Anderson Mori & Tomotsune both enjoyed upturns from 2009 onwards, even overtaking A&O and Clifford Chance at points, but neither foreign firm has put anything together over a sustained period of time.

Key foreign relationship: Cadwalader

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has been the dominant outside adviser to Barclays on US debt capital and equity capital market issuances for the past five years.

The US firm won 47 out of 48 non-UK deals in 2006 (the now defunct Thacher Proffitt & Wood won the other) and all 35 instructions in 2007. It then won all six in 2008, but 2009 saw Herbert Smith and Hunton & Williams share the two mandates, in Guernsey and the US respectively.

2010 was sparse, while 2011 saw two relevant deals, both in Australia. Local firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques won the role on both.

Percentage of work for Barclays as issuer (by deal count)


Five 2011 issuances

  1. Blake Cassels & Graydon advised the bank on a $29.7m (£19.2m) corporate step-up medium-term note
  2. Clifford Chance acted for subsidiary Gracechurch on $1.49bn flat asset-backed notes. Weil Gotshal & Manges acted for bookrunners Barclays Capital, Lloyds TSB and Citibank
  3. Allen & Overy advised on $2.88bn corporate 2.125 per cent medium-term notes, and acted for the bookrunners
  4. Sullivan & Cromwell advised on corporate 2.375 per cent global notes. Linklaters guided bookrunner Barclays Capital
  5. Anderson Mori & Tomotsune acted for bank in $676.5m corporate 1.040 per cent fixed/straight bond. Baker & McKenzie in Tokyo advised bookrunner Barclays Capital


Percentage of UK issuances in which Barclays or its subsidiary hired a firm