General Electric finalises cut-down European panel

Details have emerged of wranglings between General Electric (GE) in-house lawyers and the group’s procurement team over a slimming-down of its European legal panel earlier this year.

The revamp is understood to have been handled largely by the internal procurement department, leading to claims that the final roster of selected advisers was not the ideal list from the point of view of the in-house counsel and members of business teams.

GE General Electric
GE General Electric

Firms appointed include DLA Piper, Eversheds, Mayer Brown and Squire Sanders, while Wragge & Co has not been re-appointed.

One adviser commented: “The business was not desperately pleased as it was entirely procurement-led. The business probably know what they need. Some people in GE have said the process leaves the team with a panel that [they feel] from an empirical viewpoint we’ve got the right ones, but a number will say even with all that process they’re not really the optimal people to help us. Next time they will somehow put more of an oar into it and see if they win that battle.”

The European panel primarily covers GE’s finance unit, GE Capital, but can also feed into other arms of the US conglomerate. The length of the appointment is unclear, as is the full line-up.

The panel was compiled as a highly complex matrix covering various different business strands including sections known as ‘rooms’.

Another adviser said: “The general thrust of the review is there are far fewer firms than have been on it in the past.”

Other firms with close ties to GE on finance work include Addleshaw Goddard and Hogan Lovells, while Taylor Wessing acts for it on real estate and Ashurst, Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May and Weil Gotshal & Manges are among its advisers on M&A, which was not included in the review.

A separate M&A roster was launched in 2007, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also appointed but later leaving the list for conflict reasons (8 October 2007).

The team working on the review was led by GE Capital UK general counsel Lorna Curry. Firms started submitting applications in the latter part of 2012, with the process completed in the early months of this year (29 October 2012).

Meanwhile, Marianna Nitsch, GE’s European general counsel for global growth and operations, is understood to be leaving the group, with her next move unclear.

GE declined to comment.