Linklaters, Ashurst and BLP line up as Lloyds prepares for second panel review in a year

Lloyds Banking Group panel firms are gearing up for the second panel review in a year as the banks own-account roster goes up for grabs.

The bank is set to kick off its review for coveted own-account work in the next two months in time for an October deadline, when the current roster expires.

Current panel firms include Linklaters, Clifford Chance, AshurstEversheds, and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP). In 2012 all won spots by pitching for roles on the bank’s 11 sub-panels, which include group property, financial markets and commercial rosters.

Market sources said the bank’s last town-hall meeting touched on budgetary pressures, prompting many to expect a tougher fight for spots this year.

If so it would be the second time the bank has slimmed down its roster in recent years. The bank’s last review two years ago resulted in a smaller panel, with work handed to between 12 and 14 firms and divided between 11 spots. Sub-panels currently include litigation, regulatory and commercial.

Firms are understood to have pitched for work in the 2012 review by selecting sub-panels to pitch for along with a fee range they would be prepared to charge. However sources said they had not yet received information from the bank about what it wanted from prospective advisers.

The review will by the third time Lloyds has revamped the prestigious own-account panel since Lloyds TSB acquired HBOS in 2008. It put in place its first post-merger panel in 2010, handing spots to magic circle firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters among others (21 October 2010).

The bank is understood to expect firms to offer discounted rates and several firms within the panel already work together to divide up chunks of work. Firms still enter separate bills for these arrangements the bank is said to be keen on its panel firms cooperating to reduce costs.

Some of that cooperation is between the bank’s own-account roster and firms on its wider customer-pay panel, which was overhauled at the end of April.

Osborne Clarke, Hogan Lovells, CMS Cameron McKenna and Addleshaw Goddard won spots in the third-party panel review for which the bank’s customers pay the fees(29 April 2014).

It was the first formal review for the transactional panel and was a nail-biting process for panel firms waiting for the results for since last year (10 June 2013).

The process had been due to kick off in January 2013 but by mid-June firms were still in the dark about the timescale of the process. The finalised roster was communicated to winning firms two months ago and the own-account panel is also expected to be a mammoth task.

In 2012 the timeline of the own-account review was also shifted due to the size of the task.  The bank was set to finalise the panel by the start of October but announced it in November after delaying the review for a month (25 October 2012).

The new process comes amid big change within the bank’s legal team. At the end of last year the bank launched a plan to outsource its retail and wealth and asset finance litigation teams, named internally as ‘Project Canberra’ (11 November 2013).

The review was put on hold after The Lawyer broke the news last year but the bank told staff in November that it would bring together its litigation and contentious regulatory teams.

The retail and wealth, commercial banking and asset finance litigation teams also moved into the new litigation & contentious regulatory group from the beginning of the year, reporting into regulatory general counsel Michael Hartridge.