Herbies staves off Freshfields, Simmons for Tata advisory role

Herbert Smith has scooped rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Simmons & Simmons to advise Indian IT company Tata Consultancy Services on a £600m IT outsourcing contract with life insurer Pearl Group.

It is understood that the firm won a competitive beauty parade, which included both Freshfields and longstanding adviser Simmons, for the mandate to advise on the 12-year deal.

IT partner Mark Turner, who led Herbert Smith’s team with corporate partner Mark Geday, attributed the win to associate Nimi Patel, who has been key to developing the firm’s relationship with the Tata Group.

“She knows various people [at the Tata Group] very well. She’s been instrumental in introducing us to them,” Turner said. “I know there were other firms [involved in the beauty parade]. We weren’t the only firm in the running.”

Patel has previously advised Tata Group subsidiary Tata Tea on its £280m purchase of Tetley Group’s share capital and the subsequent £187m refinancing.

However, Simmons has historically advised on much of Tata Consultancy Services’ outsourcing work, including its£896m NHS IT outsourcing deal in 2004.

Turner speculated that Tata Consultancy Services’ deal with Pearl Group could signal a UK push from the Indian firm, potentially opening the market up to more firms.

“I think that they see this as a platform to sell various sorts of services in the UK – not just to the insurance sector, but to other businesses as well,” Turner said.

Morrison & Foerster advised Pearl Group on the commercial agreement for the deal. Sacker & Partners advised on pensions aspects and Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham advised on property law.