Macfarlanes and Wall Street firm Cravath Swaine & Moore have secured key roles on a £4.3bn counter-bid for Corus in an intensifying battle for the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker.
Brazilian group Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) made a last-minute offer to trump that of Indian giant Tata in October. CSN and Corus held failed talks in 2002.
CSN instructed Macfarlanes as its European counsel, with corporate partner Charles Martin and head of debt finance Tim Lewis acting. Cravath M&A partners David Mercado and Peter Wilson are advising CSN on US aspects of the deal.
Slaughter and May won the high-profile Corus instruction, with partners Anthony Newhouse and Andrew Balfour on the finance side. De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is advising Corus on Dutch law aspects and Shearman & Sterling is lead counsel on US law and competition issues.
Meanwhile, Tata Steel UK instructed Herbert Smith for its offer, led by corporate partners David Paterson and Malcolm Lombers, with assistance from senior corporate consultant Nimi Patel, who has been instrumental in building the firm's relationship with the Indian company.
Tata made a 455p-a-share cash tender for Corus, while CSN is looking at a possible 475p-a-share cash offer. Tata's offer will be put to Corus shareholders for consideration next month.
It is understood that the Brazilians will look to sweeten the deal by arguing that CSN has unlimited access to iron ore, the prime component of steel, while Tata will not be allowed to import iron ore to Europe because of strict Indian regulations.