Lovells and Freshfields lead in property outsourcing bids

Leading City property lawyers are gearing up for the final bidding stages of groundbreaking outsourcing deals for the BBC and London Underground property portfolios.

By the end of October, the BBC, advised by Linklaters & Alliance, is expected to draw up a shortlist of two or three from the five prospective consortia bidding to manage its £500m property portfolio. Its final choice will be made in February.

The five consortia recently went through commercial and legal clarification processes with the BBC, which is also being advised by NM Rothschild and Sons and DTZ Pieda Consulting.

Of the five bidders, Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer is known to be advising 2020 Insight, comprising Trillium and Land Securities, while Lovells is advising the Foresite Consortium of Amey and CIT Group.

Lovells is also advising one of two final bidders for London Underground’s non-operational property portfolio, known for this bid as Portal 2000, which comprises Trillium and Land Securities. Portal 2000 and the Chelsfield/Nelson Bakewell consortium are currently working on best and final offers to be submitted by the end of November. London Underground, advised by Freshfields, plans to complete the deal early next year.

Lovells property partner Bob Kidby describes the London Underground and BBC projects as “another generation” of property outsourcing work following on from the pioneering Department of Social Security (DSS) and Inland Revenue deals, called Prime Deal and Steps respectively.

He says: “The London Underground transaction marks a shift away from the traditional government PFI transaction in so far as it is not designed purely for future occupation by government employees. It is designed to enhance the future service given by London Underground to Londoners generally.”

Freshfields property partner James George, who is advising the 2020 Insight team with partner Jeffrey Rubinoff, says: “The BBC is very different to Prime and Steps and needs to be looked at afresh to ensure that the BBC achieves what it wants, which is not simply flexibility in relation to its property estate. It includes a major development of the White City complex to ensure that the BBC has a world-class studio complex.”

Freshfields and Lovells have established leading reputations in property outsourcing. Lovells advised the DSS and the Inland Revenue on the outsourcing of their estates and successfully crossed into private sector outsourcing when it advised London and Regional Properties (LRP) on its successful bid for Shell petrol stations, and the Abbey National Group on a sale and leaseback deal worth around £460m. Last month, it was announced that Mapeley, advised by Linklaters, was the winning bidder for the Abbey National portfolio.