Arthur Cox senior partner James O'Dwyer faced a potential conflict on the Jefferson Smurfit deal, but removed himself from any involvement in the transaction
O'Dwyer is a director of Smurfit, but Arthur Cox was instructed to advise US private equity group Madison Dearborn on its e3.7bn (£2.37) bid for the paper and packaging company. O'Dwyer notified the Smurfit board when it became clear that a conflict could arise, but as a result could play no further part in the transaction as a director or a shareholder. It is understood that other Smurfit directors also had to remove themselves due to potential conflicts. Smurfit set up an independent board comprising directors Martin Rafferty, Howard Kilroy and Ray MacSharry to handle the sale. The deal has now gone through subject to approval from the EU Competition Commission and the Irish High Court. Both decisions are expected by September. Smurfit's board has agreed that, although the independent directors have put in additional work in preparing the ground for the bid, they will not receive additional fees. O'Dwyer, who without the conflict would have formed part of the independent board, will therefore not miss out on extra earnings as a result of excluding himself from the committee. In fact, O'Dwyer stands to make a healthy profit from what will be the largest corporate transaction in Ireland's history. On top of Arthur Cox's fees for the transaction, O'Dwyer should pick up around e133,000 (£86,000) for his 62,000-odd shares, valued at a takeover price of e2.15 (£1.38).