New ING legal chief to kickstart global panel

A&O, CC, Freshfields, Herbert Smith, Linklaters and Stibbe all poised to win work

Following months of delay, ING is setting up its first global banking panel after hiring Euronext Amsterdam managing director of legal Jan Willem Vink as group general counsel.

ING announced it was forming the banking panel last November but the process was set back when the former general counsel, Diederik van Wassenaer, moved to another role within the group.

Vink’s role at Euronext stands empty, with his former number two working as acting head of legal.

Vink’s appointment to lead the legal function of the £38bn organisation will have repercussions for all the top firms in Europe. He is known to be fond of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith’s Dutch and Belgian ally Stibbe. Stibbe won the beauty parade to advise on the creation of Euronext in 2000 and Freshfields was picked for the lead role on its initial public offering. Both firms also already work for ING, and according to an ING insider they have a good chance of taking lead roles on the banking panel.

Other top firms close to ING include Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters over the whole of Europe, and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the Benelux region. ING has also used US firms Latham & Watkins and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy in the past, particularly for securitisation work.

ING is setting up the global banking panel to cut legal costs and allow the general counsel’s department to exert more influence over the choice of firms working on the group’s transactions. Currently, ING bankers have near total autonomy when picking legal advisers for deals.

The handful of firms that make it onto the banking panel will be required to offer fixed fees, flexible hourly rates and discounts for aborted deals in return for their coveted places.

The group originally intended to have the legal panel set up by March this year (The Lawyer, 25 November 2001).