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Private practice jobs focus on negotiations as Magic Circle eye up international clients

Posted by: Laurence Simons 06/11/12

If you think of companies making a bid of €1.5 billion (£1.2billion) to take over another private equity group as being one team captain and the private equity group itself being another, every single law firm is a potato-faced kid of various sizes and abilities lined up against a wall in a playground. And first picks in this metaphorical lunchtime game of softball is Magic Circle giants Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters.

As The Lawyer reports, the mantle of 'big kid making a bid to buy out the slightly littler kid' falls to German retailer Douglas Holding, which is making the aforementioned €1.5 billion attempt to buy out private equity group Advent International, along with the retailer's founding family. And when one firm tries to buy another for €1.5 billion, what you'll always get is a huddle of private practice firms hoping to get in on the game in an advisory role. 

A&O, Clifford Chance and Linklaters have already grabbed starting bat: that's a given. But in among the picks are Latham & Watkins and German firm P+P Pollath & Partners, both of which will be advising on the long-speculated buyout deal. It's thought the buyout has the potential to take the company private, too, which could throw up its own legal foul ball that needs a-catching.

"Advent and the Kreke family have put in a voluntary takeover offer for the outstanding shares in Douglas, in which CEO Henning Kreke and chairman Jörn Kreke, his father, currently hold an interest of around 13 per cent," said The Lawyer's Joshua Freedman.

"Douglas said Advent and the Krekes had already received commitments securing the purchase of 50.5 per cent of shares in the company from existing shareholders. They launched the bid via a holding company, Beauty Holding Three, in which Advent has an 80 per cent stake and the Kreke family 20 per cent." Yes, there is a lot going on there. That's why the Magic Circle trio have been called in, to prise this whole deal apart and make sense of it all.

It's not even the first time this month that Magic Circle firms have sent high-profile delegates to various far-flung countries to negotiate tricky buyouts, sell-outs and takeovers. Clifford Chance and Baker & McKenzie were among those advising on the €250 million (£200 million) sale of French supermarket chain Carrefour's Malaysian operation, while Freshfields is reportedly considering an Australian office to take full advantage of the business opportunities there.