Shearman in antitrust coup on Herbies' Carnival deal

Shearman & Sterling has joined Herbert Smith as co-counsel on Carnival's high-profile hostile takeover bid for cruise operator P&O Princess

The firm was drafted in to provide additional advice on competition aspects of the deal.
It is understood that there are grave concerns in the Carnival camp about how the European Commission (EC) will rule on the Carnival-P&O tie-up. In May, the EC released a tough statement of objections that could force Carnival to dispose of major assets in Germany and the UK in order to obtain EU clearance.
Carnival general counsel Arnie Perez called in a Shearman competition team, led by Chris Bright, to provide back-up and extra firepower. Shearman wrote public legal opinion for Carnival in January, which helped to persuade P&O shareholders to postpone their Valentine's Day vote on the P&O-Royal Caribbean merger in order to further consider the Carnival bid.
The EC official on the merger is Paul Malric Smith, who is held in mixed esteem in the Brussels community. Some claim he is inflexible and overly influenced by the submissions of the opponents of mergers, while others describe him as honest and particularly easy to work with. Sources close to Carnival, however, have been critical of the calibre of the more junior EC officials involved.
Co-counselling in a merger review is unusual because it can be expensive and problematic.
With the Carnival deal, however, it is understood that the two teams are working well together. Shearman is also advising on Carnival's submission to the UK authorities on the P&O-Royal Caribbean merger. The UK is expected to announce its views this week, while the EC ruling may now be delayed until August.