Bullish Dentons looks to up City stake with recruit drive

Denton Hall, the UK's 13th largest law firm, has launched a major recruitment drive to boost its City practice at 5 Chancery Lane.

The firm is seeking to increase staff at all levels to reflect its expanded role in the Square Mile.

Denton Hall is currently acting for business services group Rentokil which has launched a £2.1 billion bid for rival BET.

Last year, the firm represented The Southern Company, the US group which swallowed SWEB, the UK regional electricity concern.

Andrew Daws, corporate partner at Dentons, said: “Our City business has grown by leaps and bounds so you will not be surprised to hear that we are actively recruiting at this busy time.”

Sources suggest that Denton Hall will reap a significant “success fee” if Rentokil wins its bid battle for BET. The result will be known this Friday.

Dentons' corporate client list includes German media group Bertlesmann which is seeking to expand its European television operations, possibly to the UK. Another client is French oil giant Total.

Daws is leading the Denton Hall team together with partners Tony Grant and Martin Kitchen. The BET side is being advised by Linklaters & Paines.

Daws said he liked to think that the firm's City reputation was already “formidable” and he rejected the idea that Dentons is snapping at the heels of larger firms such as Slaughter and May and Linklaters & Paines. “We do not consider that we are behind them,” he said.

On the Rentokil bid, Daws said he was anxious to stay within the controls imposed by the Takeover Panel and other regulatory bodies which monitor hostile takeovers. He declined to be drawn on the recent censure of BET, criticised by the panel for making an invalid comparison in a statement on the value it put to Rentokil's revised offer, made on 12 April.

Dentons' team is working closely with Rentokil's financial advisers, SBC Warburg and Lazard Brothers.

City analysts believe Rentokil's revised offer should be sufficient to ensure success. But sources close to BET said they thought they had a strong chance of seeing off the bid.

Rentokil, majority owned by Sophus Berendsen of Denmark, employs about 40,000 people around the world compared to BET's 100,000. If it wins control of its target, Rentokil will become one of Europe's largest employers.