Deals Comment

The completion of the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) contract “realignment” (its words, not ours) with EDS has caused much political fuss. But the complexity of EDS’s relationship with the DWP is nothing compared with the complexity of the DWP’s relationships with its lawyers (see news, page 3). The final outcome sees victories for DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary and Pinsent Masons. This is becoming a familiar story. Add in Field Fisher Waterhouse and you have a triumvirate of law firms that are dominating large public sector IT procurements. It is an area that the three firms have really focused on as the Government has spent more and more money on new IT projects, or ‘realigning’ old ones that have gone pear-shaped. Spare a thought, then, for the former dons of public sector IT. David Barrett (pictured) of Simmons & Simmons and Hamish Sandison of Bird & Bird were omnipresent on all of these deals until relatively recently. But with all of its contracts being ‘realigned’, perhaps it was inevitable that the Government would ‘realign’ its legal advisers too.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has carved a great little niche in the burgeoning online gaming sector. As first reported on www.thelawyer. com (31 August), the firm has landed the mandate to advise Cassava, the Gibraltar-based company that operates, on its £700m London Stock Exchange debut. The magic circle firm, which emerged alongside Linklaters as king of the IPOs on the main list (The Lawyer, 25 July), advised PartyGaming on its high-profile £5bn float earlier in the year. PartyGaming turned to Freshfields in favour of longstanding adviser Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in relation to its much-publicised IPO because the company wanted to instruct a firm with more experience of large-scale flotations. Indeed, Freshfields is also well placed to land the advisory role on BLP client Betfair’s anticipated £700m float. Freshfields’ foray into the gaming sector dates back to 2002, when the firm beat Ashurst Morris Crisp to win the mandate to act for William Hill on its £1.1bn listing. Freshfields declined to comment.