Deals Comment

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary and Travers Smith have taken the lead in a prospective bidding war for bookstore chain Ottakar’s after securing roles advising the management buyout (MBO) team and Phoenix Equity Partners respectively. They won the mandates after the chain’s founders launched a £79m MBO bid late last month through newly-formed company Book Store Acquisitions, backed by Phoenix. Last week the offer was increased to almost £90m, or 400p per share, in a bid to ensure that the deal was not scuppered by a potential counter-bid from Waterstone’s owner HMV Group. HMV has approached Ottakar’s independent directors, but no offer has been put forward so far. Macfarlanes, led by corporate partner Simon Martin (pictured), is advising Ottakar’s. Travers partners Edmund Reed and Andrew Gillen are leading the team advising Phoenix, while DLA Piper partner Jonathan Richards is leading the team advising the MBO team. Lovells, led by banking and finance partner Penny Angell, has been instructed by Barclays on the group’s financing.

Linklaters is confident of securing a mandate advising Australian heavy hitter Macquarie Bank on its much-speculated potential counter-bid for the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The magic circle firm claims to be in favour with the investment group after assisting with several renewable projects and would be surprised if it did not win the lead role. Meanwhile, Clifford Chance appears likely to receive a mandate on financing aspects. But both firms could be disappointed if Macquarie does not make a formal bid soon. Advisers agree that, as more time elapses from Macquarie’s original announcement of interest last month, a formal bid becomes increasingly unlikely. Meanwhile, Paris exchange Euronext, which is being advised by US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Slaughter and May, last week offered to slash its voting rights in clearing house LCH.Clearnet and to halve the number of directors it is allowed to appoint in a bid to gain UK Competition Commission approval for its takeover of the LSE.