GE names Europe M&A counsel as Anheuser-Busch InBev reviews firms

General Electric (GE) has reviewed its European M&A panel, with four of the five firms appointed in 2007 retaining a place on the roster.

Slaughter and May, Weil Gotshal & Manges, Allen & Overy and Ashurst have all been reappointed to the panel for another four-year term. Shearman & Sterling has been added to the roster for the first time.

The appointments follow a tender process which kicked off last year and was concluded in January after several months of negotiations.

The review was led by UK M&A general counsel Ben O’Halloran, with firms submitting a tender document and meeting with GE’s in-house legal team.

According to the company’s regular advisers, firms had to offer discounts on fees and provide value-added extras to retain a place on the panel.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which was appointed alongside the other four firms when GE last reviewed in 2007, came off the panel 18 months later by mutual agreement. Although GE declined to comment on the reason, it is understood that it was due to GE’s stringent conflicts rules which state that panel firms must not take on contentious instructions against GE.

News of GE’s reappointments comes as drinks giant Anheuser-Busch InBev prepares to review its global panel of law firms.

The beer company, which was formed in November 2008 through the $52bn (£36bn) transatlantic merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev, has started discussions with existing panel firms about an annual review of its advisers.

The review will be led by New York-based chief legal and compliance officer Sabine Chalmers, who will work alongside vice president of legal John Blood, who joined the company from Diageo in 2009.

In 2009, the company selected six firms for its first merged panel – Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters, Howrey, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and Sullivan & Cromwell.