ING global panel crushes Herbert Smith and Stibbe’s alliance hopes

Herbert Smith has been thwarted on a key premise of its alliance with Stibbe, after failing to win a place on the global panel of ING.

The giant Dutch financial services organisation is one of two key Stibbe clients, together with ABN Amro, that were a major incentive for Herbert Smith to pursue the exclusive alliance. Since ING has never been a significant London client for Herbert Smith, the UK firm was eager to leverage off Stibbe’s longstanding relationship.

As a consolation, Herbert Smith has been put on to ING’s new regional panel for the UK, while Stibbe has gone through to the Dutch regional panel. Neither had to repitch. By contrast, Herbert Smith’s recommendations helped Stibbe and German ally Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch to gain places on Credit Suisse First Boston’s panel for global investment banking work last year.

ING’s group general counsel Jan Willem Vink awarded six places on the global panel. Perhaps most galling to Stibbe and Herbert Smith was the success of ING’s other preferred Dutch firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and US firm Sullivan & Cromwell, which teamed up to win a joint place. De Brauw, which has been aligning itself with a number of top US firms since the breakdown in its relationship with Linklaters, was the only Dutch firm to make it on to the global line-up.

The other places went to Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Lovells.

A spokesperson for Herbert Smith said: “We hope that with Stibbe at the helm we can continue to develop our relationship with ING.”