Private equity giant Apax has given its clearest indication yet which firms are likely to make its hotly anticipated panel after inviting Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Travers Smith Braithwaite to pitch.
It is understood that all three have been asked to take part in a beauty parade, scheduled for the middle of April, to win one of the two positions available on the panel.
It is not clear as yet whether Lovells and Linklaters have been asked to pitch, but both have undertaken work for Apax in the past and have a good relationship with the private equity house.
Surprisingly, Ashurst has not been invited to take part in the process, despite providing counsel to Apax.
As well as setting up a panel for private equity advisers for its leverage transaction group, Apax is also seeking one firm to act on high-yield finance.
Sources state that Apax is likely to ask up to three firms, most probably US practices, to compete for the business, with early indicators pointing to Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy as a contender.
The London office acted for Apax late last year on its joint purchase with Permira for UK satellite group Inmarsat.
Apax was unavailable for comment. Clifford Chance, Travers Smith and Freshfields all declined to comment.