Baker & McKenzie beats 45 firms to win Colt Europe role

Baker & McKenzie has won a bid to become FTSE 250 telecoms company Colt Group’s preferred legal advisor on commercial work across Europe, beating more than 45 firms.

The three-year, fixed-fee deal began on 1 January and is worth around £1m a year to Bakers. The firm will work closely with Colt’s 35-strong legal team, advising the company on commercial, IT, telecoms and regulatory matters across 13 European jurisdictions.

Bakers won the bid following a competitive tender in the closing months of 2011 that initially involved 45 firms across Europe.

“Initially we were very focused on choosing the right firm for each country,” said Colt’s general counsel Robin Saphra. “We were very aware that many firms that have multiple offices can’t offer uniform quality, so we were sure to convey that we would be evaluating proposals on a country-by-country basis.

“Even though we started with that prejudice, what was remarkable was that Baker & McKenzie scored the best in each individually assessed country. That was what convinced us to go with one firm. Historically we worked with more than 100 firms across Europe, which was very complex to manage and didn’t get you very good engagement.”

According to Saphra, of the 29 proposals received by the company, 20 of those came from firms that offered services in one jurisdiction. Of the balance, two firms (including Bakers) offered services in all 13 jurisdictions.

In addition to legal and strategic advice, Colt has asked Bakers to provide training for its lawyers and run conferences, and is also considering asking Bakers to second lawyers to the company.

The deal does not include employment and litigation advice. Colt signed a similar deal with Greenberg Traurig Maher in October 2010 to provide employment advice across Europe (21 October 2011). Colt will continue to instruct firms on litigations on a case-by-case basis since it is not a practice area that can be brought under a fixed-fee arrangement.

“We use DLA Piper quite a lot in litigation and will continue to use them,” added Saphra. “They provide us with service where they track our litigations and report back to us, which is very useful.”

Colt is a FTSE 250 company with around €1.6bn turnover. According to Saphra, the company spends between £2-4m a year on legal fees. The 13 jurisdictions covered in the deal are: UK, France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium.

In December 2010, Bakers was named global legal advisor to Carlsberg (2 December 2010).