Herbies helps Tata seal £6.7bn Corus deal

Indian conglomerate and Herbert Smith client Tata emerged triumphant in an eight-hour £6.7bn auction for Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus last night.

The auction concluded a strung-out battle for Corus that pitched Tata against Brazilian miner Companhia Siderugica Nacional (CSN), advised by Macfarlanes.

Corus instructed Slaughter and May, with partners Anthony Newhouse and Andrew Balfour on the finance side. De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek advised Corus on Dutch law aspects and Shearman & Sterling led on US law and competition issues.

Herbert Smith’s instruction by Tata was thanks in part to senior corporate consultant Nimi Patel, who was responsible for building relationships with senior figures at Tata. Corporate partners David Paterson and Malcolm Lombers led Herbert Smith’s team. Herbies was assisted by Dutch ally Stibbe.

The 608p per share in cash that Tata tabled trumped that of CSN’s 603p-per-share, and exceeded expectations of what Corus could fetch. Tata originally bid 455p-per-share for Corus in October.

Bidding continued to the ninth and final round in a highly unusual auction process; a tool the Takeover Panel rarely employs but one that is useful in ending protracted battles.

The Tata and Corus combination will forge the world’s fifth largest steel producer.

Ahead of last night’s auction, CSN was tipped to be the favourite as not only had it bettered Tata’s 500p-per-share offer before Christmas but also because it argued that it had unlimited access to iron ore, the prime component of steel, while Tata will not be allowed to import iron ore to Europe because of strict Indian regulations.

But it faced challenges from Brazilian miner Companhia Vale do Rio Doce about its plans to import its iron ore to Corus.