SocGen places its £50m legal spend out to tender

Bank to revolutionise French procurement model; Société Générale opts for Anglo-Saxon law firm panel

Société Générale (SocGen) has thrown down the gauntlet for 25 firms, with the prize a share of its £50m annual legal spend.

Historically, French banks and corporates have shunned formal panels, but SocGen’s review follows a similar exercise carried out by Calyon earlier this year (The Lawyer, 2 May).

The 25 firms that have been invited to pitch will contest a place on SocGen’s 10-strong roster of international firms, which was put in place for three years at the beginning of 2003.

The 10 firms now under pressure are Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Denton Wilde Sapte, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Gide Loyrette Nouel, Herbert Smith, Lovells, Norton Rose, Shearman & Sterling and White & Case.

The bank, which has an annual legal spend of approximately £50m, has sent requests for proposals to between 20 and 25 firms, including all the firms currently on its global legal panel. All the firms have now responded. SocGen will now draw up a shortlist of advisers and expects to launch negotiations on fee rates with the shortlisted firms next month.

A SocGen source told The Lawyer that it was too early to comment on the outcome of the review, but added that the bank will use the exercise to seek further discounts on hourly charge-out rates and rebates on year-end billings.

In addition to the global panel, SocGen has a list of preferred firms to handle local work, with Watson Farley & Williams being retained to advise on UK matters.

These lists are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are not affected by the global review.