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The newly merged Pinsent Masons team is giving DLA Piper a run for its money. By Steve Hoare
Private equity houses are a fickle lot when it comes to lawyers, but Candover seems to be out in front when it comes to keeping its advisers on its toes. Last year it dumped Clifford Chance for funds work in favour of SJ Berwin. Clifford Chance, and to a lesser extent Ashurst, are still in the frame for the big deals, but on the midmarket side all sorts of firms have been scrapping for work. Macfarlanes is suddenly back in favour, having got the work for the Times Educational Supplement bid. The latest law firm to court the private equity house successfully is Weil Gotshal & Manges. Graham Defries (pictured) and Mark Soundy have just closed the €220m (£150.2m) buyout of the high technology optics division of Thales for Candover - the firm's first job for the private equity house.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's private equity practice received another boost last month after the firm landed another mandate to advise Swedish venture capitalist Industri Kapital on the sale of Dyno Nobel to a consortium led by Macquarie Bank. It is understood that the firm pitched against three others to land the €1.3bn (£890m) disposal. This is the largest deal Freshfields has handled for Industri to date. Meanwhile, Macquarie has turned to New York heavyweight Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Although Skadden's relationship with Macquarie dates as far back as 1985, the relationship will no doubt be welcomed by the firm as the Australian bank is not particularly loyal when it comes to legal advisers. With the exception of longstanding Australian counsel Allens Arthur Robinson, Macquarie farms out work to several different firms, including Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith.
The Macquarie consortium plans to separate Dyno Nobel into two bits - the consortium will retain the Australian and North American businesses, while Orica will buy Dyno Nobel's African, Asian, European, Latin American and Middle Eastern businesses for $658m (£373m). The Freshfields team was led by partner Patrick Gaynor, while Allan Murray-Jones headed the Skadden team.