A&O joins Linklaters on RMC legal panel

Allen & Overy (A&O) has ousted Linklaters & Alliance from its position as sole corporate adviser to building materials giant RMC Group.

A&O has just completed its first deal for RMC after the client decided to add a second top-tier firm to its panel.

The firm acted on the £285m disposal of RMC’s Great Mills retail business to home improvement group Focus Do It All. A&O corporate partner Jonathan Gould led the team pitching for the work.

The Great Mills deal is the first in a series of deals planned by RMC after it announced in the summer that it will focus resources on developing its core heavy building materials business.

Matthew Jowett, head of corporate legal at RMC, says: “Linklaters acted for RMC on the acquisition of the Rugby Group, which was completed in January this year and was a £925m deal. Following the completion of that it was felt that it was time to introduce a competitive element into the way we tender for work.”

He adds: “Linklaters is still on our panel but is not necessarily the first choice for large high-profile pieces of work.”

Jowett says that the magic circle firms were all invited to tender, and those that had no conflicts were brought in to meet the in-house legal team, but A&O was the most impressive.

He says: “We thought that they had the best sort of strength and depth across their team. On a deal like Great Mills, which was an asset deal rather than a share deal, it’s great to have all the core competencies represented.”

The team which Gould led at A&O included property partner David Hughes, tax partner David Lewis, banking partner David Murray, competition partner David Harrison and employment and pensions partner Jonathan Goodwin.

Jowett says that costs were a big factor in opting for A&O. He says: “We are obviously in a cost sensitive environment and that goes for everything including the purchasing of legal services. We reached an agreement with A&O on hourly rates.

“I think you need to destroy the belief that people may have that they will be the automatic first choice.”