Freshfields and Ashurst guide £860m ABB offer for Chloride

Ashurst and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have landed the key mandates on Swiss engineering group ABB’s recommended offer for power equipment ­supplier Chloride.

The £860m offer, at 325p a share, was prompted by the approach earlier this year from rival bidder Emerson, whose initial offer valued the company at 275p per share.

Acting for Chloride, Ashurst fielded a team led by corporate chief Adrian Clark, supported by competition partners Nigel Parr and Neil Cuninghame, and employment partner Paul Randall.

Freshfields advised ABB on the offer, with corporate partners Barry O’Brien and Piers Prichard Jones leading the team. The deal marked the first time the magic circle firm has acted for ABB on a public UK M&A transaction.

Berlin-based relationship partner Helmut Bergmann, who has worked with ABB on a number of competition matters, is leading on antitrust aspects for ­Freshfields. The team is completed by employment partners Kathleen Healy and David Pollard.

Clark said: “We’ve known [Chloride] for a number of years so it’s an obvious one for us to get involved on. It’s been a very sensible process and the client has been very professional. It’s been a nice deal to be on so far, and that’s not always the case.”

The ABB offer is being made through a scheme of arrangements requiring 75 per cent approval from Chloride shareholders before it can be given the green light.

The timetable of the scheme is yet to be set out, but sources close to the deal say that the possibility of a rival bid from Emerson, which has been pursuing its target for two years, cannot be ruled out.

“If a higher bid comes along they would probably listen to it,” said a source familiar with the deal.

Emerson was advised by Slaughter and May on its initial offer, with head of M&A Stephen Cooke taking the lead.

It is understood that ABB has submitted a cash-only offer, although Credit Suisse is acting as corporate ­broker, with advice coming from Herbert Smith. For Chloride, financial advice comes from Citibank and Investec.

The deal is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.