Slaughters takes up first KPN instruction

Slaughter and May

has scooped its first ever instruction from KPN, the Dutch telecoms giant, The Lawyer can reveal.

The firm beat KPN’s longstanding adviser Allen & Overy (A&O) to win a mandate to advise the company on the UK aspects of its failed £10bn bid for mmO2, the mobile phone group that was spun off from British Telecom (BT).

KPN general counsel Rene van Rooij, who joined the company last October, said he instructed Slaughters because of its reputation in public takeovers and because of his relationship with the firm’s former head of corporate Nigel Boardman.

“Slaughters, in particular Nigel Boardman, is a first-class, if not the first-class, public takeover law firm in the City,” said Rooij.

Rooij, who was previously Royal-Dutch Shell’s general counsel for oil products, said he would consider instructing Slaughters on any future large-scale corporate deals.

It is understood that A&O may also have missed out on the KPN instruction because of a potential conflict arising out of the firm’s appointment onto BT’s English and Welsh legal panels last summer. A&O did, however, advise KPN on Dutch law issues.

Commenting on KPN’s decision to instruct Slaughters, the senior partner of A&O’s Dutch office Sietze Hepkema said it did not mean the company had switched advisers. He added that the firm was confident about maintaining a strong relationship with KPN in the future.

Rooij is also in the throes of reviewing KPN’s relationship with external legal advisers in the Netherlands. He said invitations to tender have been sent to a number of firms and the next stage will involve interviews with shortlisted firms.

KPN currently has relationships with a number of domestic and foreign firms in the Netherlands. The company farms out regulatory work to A&O’s Dutch office and intellectual property work is handled by De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. Meanwhile, some legal work is also outsourced to Loyens & Loeff and a handful of smaller firms.

Rooij said the panel review was something his predecessor Andele Nauta did from time to time, and that his arrival provided a good opportunity to look at it again.

mmO2, which was advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Will Laws, rejected KPN’s bid in February. In a statement dated 20 February, Slough-based mmO2 said it had received and considered a proposal, but discussions had ceased.