Simmons, Skadden, Clifford Chance brought in on Resolution bid

Simmons & Simmons has landed a key role on a multi-billion-pound financial services deal that has called in a roster of City firms.

Simmons is advising new client Royal London Mutual Insurance Society on its agreement with Pearl Group as part of the latter’s approach to rival Resolution.

Pearl has turned to longstanding adviser Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, led by corporate partner and co-head of financial institutions Will Lawes.

Meanwhile, Standard Life and Swiss Re have entered the fray. The pair announced on Monday (15 October) that they were in talks to mount a rival cash bid for Resolution, expected to top £5bn. Standard Life has turned to Clifford Chance while Swiss Re has instructed Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

Royal London has a new group legal director, Chris Aujard, who has forged a relationship with Simmons, having arrived from Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander in June. The Simmons team is being led by corporate partner Richard May and insurance partner Jennifer Donohue on the deal, which sees Royal London fund part of Pearl’s bid in exchange for £1.25bn of Resolution’s assets if the offer is successful.

Royal London has its sights on Resolution’s Scottish Provident and Scottish Provident International businesses.

Resolution, advised by Herbert Smith corporate partner Malcolm Lombers, has so far rebuffed Pearl’s £4.5bn advances. The Takeover Panel issued a “put up or shut up” notice on Monday (15 October), meaning that Pearl has until next Thursday (25 October) to make a formal offer or walk away for at least six months.

That deadline would also apply to Standard Life and Swiss Re. In the meantime, Resolution is pressing on with its £8bn merger with Linklaters client Friends Provident, announced in July (The Lawyer, 23 July).

Meanwhile, both Lawes and Lombers are also working on Northern Rock, with Lawes leading advice to the beleagured mortgage lender and Lombers advising new client JC Flowers on a possible offer.