Veon to expand global shared legal services offering in major transformation

Telecoms giant Veon – formerly known as Vimpelcom – has made a new pledge to boost the offering in its three global shared services centres, The Lawyer can reveal.

This effort is part of Veon in-house legal department’s major drive for efficiency and compliance.

Veon set up three global shared services centres (GSS) in Moscow, Kiev and Islamabad last year.

Since mid-2017, the group’s legal department has also started migrating part of the legal services from the headquarters’ in-house legal department to the shared centres.

The types of services to be shared centrally from these three centres are mostly around accounting, transactional services (such as account payable, account receivable and payroll), and HR management (such as recruiting).

The implementation of shared global legal services is steered by a legal transformation team, led by general counsel Scott Dresser and deputy general counsel for strategy, transformation, operations and policy David Dobbie.

The team also consists of head of global GSS Niaz Brohi, based in Islamabad.

The initial wave of legal services migrating to the GSS centres have been largely lower-end, resource- and time intensive, and administrative, such as corporate governance support (corporate information collection, process and management), litigation support work (information collection and reporting), global contract database, document processing and paralegal support.

The first wave also included the lower end of commercial and procurement contracts, such as NDAs, MoUs and standard form contracts, all of which can be automated and do not need to be heavily negotiated.

According to Dobbie, the intention is to upscale the GSS centralised contracting activity and provide more complex support around contracts. Setting up a helpdesk to deal with initial enquiries and direct them to the right places and contacts is one example.

In addition, the second wave of legal services to be added to GSS will also include more expertise in litigation support work, such as discovery and document review.

Currently, there is one lawyer based in the Russia GSS centre, with three in Ukraine and four in Pakistan. The team and scope of GSS legal services are in the process of expanding. The number of legal professionals based in these centres will grow as more services are added.

Although the first wave of legal services was migrated to the GSS just six months ago, it is understood that millions of dollars of savings have already been made from external legal spend, economy of scale, lower overheads and salaries arbitrage.

But more importantly, Dobbie said, the primary objectives for setting up these global shared services centres are to standardise process, reduce risks, and improve compliance, internal control and efficiency.

“Even if not based on financial savings, there are other important key benefits to take this approach and this is the way forward,” said Dobbie.

“It also frees up highly skilled and expensive staff we have in Amsterdam, London, Moscow and Kiev and resources in the legal department to focus on strategic matters,” he added.

Veon’s Moscow GSS centre is dedicated to service Veon’s Russian operations, which is the group’s largest market. The Kiev centre in Ukraine covers the Eurasia markets, which include Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Georgia. Lastly, Islamabad services the emerging markets – Algeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as the group’s Amsterdam headquarters and business operations in London and Luxemburg.

For more in-depth details on the legal department’s instrumental role in Veon’s business transformation and how it has also completed fundamental structural reform and revolutionised the way it delivers services and efficiency in the process, read the case study in The Lawyer’s December issue coming out this week.