Freshfields poised for Barclays coup

Barclays Bank has made a provisional decision to add Freshfields Bruckhaus Derin-ger to its core banking panel after a four-month review. All the firm’s current firms have avoided the chop.

The bank’s existing roster of panel firms – Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance, DLA, Linklaters, Lovells and Simmons & Simmons – will remain in place.

Three new firms tendered for a place on the general banking panel, which undertakes the bulk of Barclays’ own account work, but only Freshfields forced its way on.

Freshfields is already on two Barclays specialist panels. The appointment is a major victory because the firm has fantastic relationships with the US investment banks, but has so far made minimal headway with the UK’s high street banks.

Several sources have indicated that the review process was also about Barclays getting the best value for money from its external lawyers by screwing down fees.

Barclays projects and operations director Bjarnie Anderson said: “If we blew the whistle today, those would be the firms on the panel.” The provisional decision will be presented to Barclays’ in-house lawyers in the next couple of weeks. It is unlikely that there will be any change. There is some tinkering still to be done with the 18-firm specialist panels.

As revealed on www.the, last week Barclays also appointed Clifford Chance partner Mark Harding as general counsel after a year-long hunt to replace outgoing legal head Howard Trust.

Harding, who had a four-year stint in-house at UBS Warburg between 1996 and 2000, will start in June. His appointment will solidify the bank’s strong relationships with Clifford Chance.