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Independent Netherlands firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek has sided with the UK management of beleaguered steel maker Corus in the unprecedented battle with its Dutch subsidiary
The leading Dutch firm, which rejected a UK merger with Linklaters last year, previously acted for both parts of the Corus business.
Corus took the supervisory board attached to the company's Dutch management to court after it vetoed plans to sell a key aluminium processing subsidiary for £543m to Pechiney. Under Dutch law, supervisory boards have the ultimate decision over disposals and members cannot be removed by shareholders. Last week, the Dutch court upheld the supervisory board's decision.
De Brauw partners Ruud Hermans and Lodewijk Hijmans van den Bergh led the team for Corus. Sole practitioner Mick den Boogert, who often works with Allen & Overy and Loyens & Loeff, acted for the supervisory board, while Nauta Dutilh partner Erik Hommerstein acted for Corus Netherlands.
In a last-ditch attempt to get the sale approved, De Brauw proposed a so-called 'Belgian option', whereby the three Dutch members of the supervisory board would resign for one day, allowing the single UK representative to approve the sale. The option stems from Belgium's late King Baudouin, who resigned for a day to avoid signing an abortion bill into the law. However, all attempts by the London-based company were in vain.
Linklaters Amsterdam partner Stephen Blackshaw said: "Normally people like to go to court with a reasonable chance of winning. In this case they went because the value of the spoils was so high, but their expectation of winning must have been quite low."