CC set to cash in on Safeway’s £3m pot

Clifford Chance is in line to earn the bulk of a £3m jackpot of advisory fees that Safeway has set aside for its long-running takeover battle.

According to a second quarter trading statement issued by Safeway on 29 October, the supermarket giant expects to announce £13m of exceptional charges for the first six months of the year, £3m of which will be paid to its advisers.

Clifford Chance client Safeway has been the subject of a drawn out bidding war since January, with five suitors circling the supermarket chain.

However, just last week retail entrepreneur Phillip Green, represented by Simmons & Simmons, dropped out of the race, leaving the original bidder WM Morrison, advised by Ashurst Morris Crisp, in pole position.

A spokeswoman for Safeway said that £3m would be paid out to a number of advisers, including Thomas Sharpe QC from One Essex Court. But she added that the “vast majority” would go to Clifford Chance.

It appears that the magic circle firm may have trousered even more billings for the deal – in Safeway’s annual report for 2003, the company states that during the second half of that year it had an exceptional charge of £17m for advice. Beneficiaries of these funds include investment banks as well as the law firm.