Societe Generale launches reverse auction process for final round of global panel review

Societe Generale has kicked off a reverse auction process for the final round of its ongoing global panel review.

In total, 16 firms are competing for 12 places in the auction.

The French bank formally launched the tender process in June, with the new line-up expected to run from January 2018 for a six-year term.

Typically, under a reverse auction system, law firms enter their panel rates online for specific types of work. They can see what other firms are charging and compete by lowering their own rates.

One partner involved in the process said: “It’s pretty brutal – like a reverse eBay process.”

France-based Olivia Brunet de Viry, a director within the bank’s law firm policy group, is leading the review.

The bank last renewed its global panel in 2011, when 12 UK and international firms were appointed for a six-year term. Up until 2011, the panel appointments lasted for three years.

Firms appointed in 2011 included Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills, Clifford Chance, Ashurst, Norton Rose Fulbright, Hogan Lovells, Shearman & Sterling, Jones Day and Paul Hastings.

French leader Gide Loyrette Nouel, and the legal arm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers also won places.

Other examples of companies using reverse auctions include BP, which in 2014 introduced this process to its UK panel review to make the bidding process more transparent and efficient.

The oil major is currently in the process of reviewing its UK legal panel advisers, with the final line-up announcement delayed until the end of the year.

The current panel, put together by former group general counsel Rupert Bondy, was due to expire on 1 July after a three-year term.

It is not yet clear whether the company will employ a reverse auction again in this round.