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Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith have come up against each other in Adecco’s pursuit of UK-listed recruitment company Michael Page.
Michael Page, which instructed longstanding adviser Herbert Smith, rejected a £1.3bn offer from the Swiss recruitment giant.
But Adecco, advised by Clifford Chance, announced that it was still interested and was considering a higher offer.
The company shunned its usual adviser, US firm White & Case, to hand the UK magic circle firm its first major instruction.
Clifford Chance fielded London partners Keith Hyman, Daniel Kossof and David Lewis alongside relationship partner Dr Thomas Stohlmeier in Germany.
The relationship dates back to 2006 when Adecco bought German recruiter DIS, which was represented by Clifford Chance, in a protracted takeover battle. Current Adecco chief executive officer Dieter Christian Scheiff and chief financial officer Dominik de Daniel joined the company from DIS as part of the merger.
Herbert Smith corporate partners Ben Ward and Alex Kay are leading for Michael Page. The firm has represented the company since acting on its flotation in 2001. Ward advised then-owner US-based Spherion, which sold its shares in the company on the London Stock Exchange in one of the largest IPOs of the year.
Takeover talks between Adecco and Michael Page had been ongoing for several months before the latter rejected the bid.
A statement from Adecco said: “Adecco believes that there is scope for a combination with Michael Page which is to the benefit of both companies and their respective shareholders.”
Michael Page specialises in white-collar recruitment, specifically in accounting and finance. It is expected to mount a vigorous defence to any takeover bid and has applied to the Takeover Panel for a ‘put up or shut up’ deadline to be imposed.