Ashurst proves its premier position at Apax with Woolworths bid instruction

Ashurst proves its premier position at Apax with Woolworths bid instruction” />Ashurst has reaffirmed its position as Apax’s adviser of choice by acting for the private equity house on its bid for Woolworths.

The firm has advised Apax on the bulk of its deals since winning the role of lead adviser on Apax’s panel last June, but this is one of the first deals to make it into the public domain following a string of failed bids.

Ashurst advised Apax on the Premier Lodge bid, but the private equity house lost out to trade buyer Whitbread. The City firm has also been particularly active for Apax in Spain.

Ashurst’s client partner for Apax Charlie Geffen declined to comment on the bid, which was controversially rejected outright by Woolworths’ management as too low.

On the other side is Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which was also appointed to the Apax panel last June. However, from January, Freshfields has had to share its Apax work with Weil Gotshal & Manges, which also won a place on the buyout panel, as revealed by The Lawyer (14 February).

Weil’s Mark Soundy was rewarded for the good work he did for Apax with his previous firm Travers Smith Braithwaite, which he left last summer.

Freshfields corporate partners Edward Braham and Mark Trapnell are advising long-term client Woolworths. The firm has worked with the retailer since it was demerged from another Freshfields client, Kingfisher, in 2001.

The corporate instruction means that Freshfields, which is trying to build up its private equity franchise, will be conflicted out of a deal that is sure to attract other private equity players.