Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has jumped into the bidding war for Canadian nickel producer Inco, advising Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) on its $17.6bn (£11.9bn) counter bid.
Inco, advised by Sullivan & Cromwell's M&A head James Morphy, has found itself at the centre of a multibillion-dollar scramble following a boom in nickel and copper prices.
CVRD is the latest to join the bidding frenzy. Canadian mining company Teck Cominco, advised by Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, was the first to bid in May with a $16.7bn (£11.3bn) offer. US-based Phelps Dodge, advised by Debevoise & Plimpton, then put in a counter bid in June worth $17.7bn (£11.97bn).
The board of Inco has advised its shareholders to reject the Teck Cominco bid and vote in favour of a tie-up with Phelps Dodge or CVRD. A statement released on behalf of the board said that CVRD's bid "could reasonably be expected to result in a superior proposal".
Shearman & Sterling is advising the banks as well as longstanding clients UBS and Credit Suisse on US matters in their capacities as financial advisers to CVRD.
The large Canadian firms have also picked up substantial mandates on the CVRD deal. Stikeman Elliot is advising CVRD and Goodmans is acting for the banks on Canadian law matters.
Canadian firm Osler Hoskin & Harcourt is counsel to Inco on Canadian legal matters.
Morphy said the deal had been keeping him busy in the traditionally quiet August period. "There's a lot going on, let's put it that way," he said.
The deal represents a second major instruction in the mining industry for Cleary this summer. The firm advised Mittal Steel on its €26.6bn (£17.99bn) bid for steel company Arcelor in July.