Linklaters forced out of brewery bid work

Linklaters & Paines was squeezed out of the latest mega-merger in the brewing sector because of a potential conflict of interest.

Bass is paying £200 million to take over Allied Domecq's half share in Carlsberg-Tetley, the joint venture brewing operation owned by Allied and Danish drinks giant Carlsberg.

But Linklaters was denied a piece of the action because both Allied and Bass are among its clients.

In Crawford's companies directory, Linklaters is listed as joint adviser to Bass alongside Ashurst Morris Crisp. While Allied does not list its legal adviser, a Linklaters spokeswoman disclosed that the firm had undertaken work for Allied, giving rise to concern about a conflict of interest.

The upshot is that Ashursts is advising Bass while Simmons & Simmons is representing Allied Domecq.

The deal has taken months of delicate negotiations and has been complicated by the involvement of Allied joint venture partner, Carlsberg.

It is understood that once the Bass-Allied Domecq leg of the deal goes through, Carlsberg will place its share of the joint venture into the Bass brewing division in exchange for a 20 per cent stake in the business.

Another major obstacle in putting together a deal has been the possibility of a referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Bass will emerge with more than 28 per cent of the UK beer market, making it the country's largest brewer.