Halliwells loses Kwik-Fit deal to Slaughters

Halliwell Landau claims it has fallen victim to “magic circle” snobbery – missing out to Slaughter and May on the billion-pound takeover of Kwik-Fit.
Kwik-Fit agreed to sell the company to Ford Motor Company in a u1bn cash takeover bid aided by Slaughter and May, with Freshfields acting on behalf of Ford.
However, Clive Garston, senior corporate partner at Halliwell Landau, which has acted for Kwik-Fit since the company's inception, says: “It is something that regional law firms suffer from – investment banks prefer to go to the City firms.”
Garston adds: “We have done acquisition work with Kwik-Fit, but with a public offering it tends to go to the magic circle. This is a feeling among the investment banking community.”
He stresses: “I have been assured that this will not affect our relationship with the company and we look forward to working with Kwik-Fit in the future.”
But Kenneth McGill, group company secretary at Kwik-Fit, says: “This is not something we were particularly aware of.”
He adds: “We choose the law firm which best suits the particular case.”
Slaughter and May's head of corporate Nigel Boardman, who with partner Tim Boxell is leading work on the deal, says: “Halliwell Landau still has a role to play – it has a wide knowledge of the company.”
Christopher Bown, corporate partner at Freshfields, leads a core team of four including partner in tax Richard Bollard and Jocelyn Mitchell, corporate partner.
Bown says the firm has only recently started working with Ford, which is also advised by Lovell White Durrant.
He adds that the firm was able to use its US lawyers housed in London to work on US issues arising from the takeover.
“We are keen to develop stronger relationships with large corporates which are making significant deals in Europe,” says Bown.
Michael Mareki, counsel to Ford in Europe, who headed up the company's extensive in-house team, says: “As far as any takeover goes we are confident that this will run as smoothly as possible.”
HSBC Investment Bank, which is advising Kwik-Fit, was unavailable to comment.