BHP Billiton set to launch global panel review

BHP Billiton is set to launch a review of its global legal panel, which could lead to the mining giant working with fewer firms.

The review will be led by chief external affairs officer Geoff Healy and head of legal Caroline Cox.

Healy joined the mining company in 2013 from the Sydney office of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), where he acted as BHP Billiton’s relationship partner.

The review will start by the end of 2016 and will take several months to complete. It will be the first time the company has consolidated its panel in a single review.

The Anglo-Australian conglomerate currently relies heavily on Slaughter and May, Ashurst and HSF in the UK.

BHP also works with Ashurst and HSF in Australia, in addition to King & Wood Mallesons.

In Australia, the company operates a more rigid panel but in Asia and the US its arrangements are more flexible.

BHP also uses US firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Davis Polk & Wardwell, Sullivan & Cromwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

BHP turned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton late last year to carry out an external investigation into the collapse of a dam in Brazil that caused the deaths of 17 people.

Cleary was instructed jointly by Brazilian mining company Vale and BHP Billiton, which own 50% shares in the Samarco Mineracao iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, the scene of the disaster in November last year.

In 2014, HSF, Slaughter and May and Cleary advised on the spinoff of a $14bn (£8.4bn) independent global metals and mining company from BHP that focused on aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets.

The move was intended to allow BHP Billiton to focus on its core iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum-based portfolio.