Freshfields and Slaughters bag 888 and Ladbrokes roles

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May have won instructions from longstanding clients 888 and Ladbrokes to advise the companies on preliminary merger talks.

Before President Bush effectively made internet gambling illegal in the US in October, Freshfields pledged to stand by 888 and its other online gaming clients while other City firms started to shun the sector.

Slaughters also had an unofficial policy of not acting for internet gambling companies but its clients, including Ladbrokes, find the industry very attractive.

Ladbrokes’ relationship partner Richard De Carle led the team at Slaughters. He said the firm did not have a formal policy towards the sector: “We had no such explicit policy to not represent online gaming clients.”

When the talks were confirmed on 6 November, shares in 888 jumped by 8.6 per cent at 120p, valuing the LSE-listed company at more than £400m. Both 888 and Ladbrokes were keen to stress to The Lawyer that the talks were merely preliminary.

Meanwhile, Julian Long led the Freshfields’ team for 888. The magic circle firm previously acted on the IPO of 888 in August 2005, after bringing PartyGaming to market for £5bn three months earlier. 888 opereates 888.com, Casino-on-Net.com and PacificPoker.com.