GE launches first European M&A panel

UK and Continental advisers under microscope as US giant kicks off review

The boom in M&A has forced one of the world’s largest conglomerates General Electric (GE) to launch its first-ever European M&A panel as part of an extensive review of external advisers across the UK and Europe.

The company is also reviewing its panels in all of the European jurisdictions in which it conducts business, including France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

GE European general counsel Mark Elborne said: “We’ve not had a European M&A panel before. What we did have was a UK finance panel, which expired at the end of last year.”

The panel is being launched as GE aggressively looks to source acquisitions for its GE Healthcare and GE Commercial Finance arms and in targeted industries such as water, oil and gas and aviation. “The European M&A preferred provider process is in a more advanced state of formation. A number of firms have been written to,” said Elborne.

The structure of the separate jurisdictional panels is still to be decided, with the process still at an early stage. “We’re still determining countries and rooms [practice areas],” said Elborne.

The move has coincided with the expiration of the regional panels in France and Spain and will mirror GE’s preferred provider scheme in the US.

The company recently reviewed its roster of US firms, handing places to firms including Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, Sidley Austin and Weil Gotshal & Manges.

In the UK GE has worked with Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May, as well as US firm Weil. It has been three years since the company last reviewed its external advisers in the UK.

Clifford Chance advised GE on the $8.3bn (£4.2bn) sale of its diagnostics business to Abbott Laboratories, which is awaiting EU clearance.

At the end of February, Weil’s London team advised GE on the sale of its commercial aviation training unit for $275m (£139.2m) to UK private equity house Star Capital.