The Lawyer Africa Elite 2014 features an in-depth look at 46 leading independent firms’ strategies in 15 key sub-Saharan jurisdictions, as well as the views of in-house counsel from some of Africa’s largest companies... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
Investment bank Merrill Lynch chose Freshfields ahead of Linklaters to advise it on its £3.1bn takeover of Britain's biggest fund manager, Mercury Asset Management (MAM).
The bank's decision to turn to Freshfields for such a major deal has surprised City lawyers, given Linklaters' close association with Merrill Lynch. Linklaters advised on the bank's acquisition of market-making firm Smith New Court in 1995.
A senior corporate finance lawyer at a top five City firm, who did not want to be named, said: "It is clearly a coup. Freshfields had been getting closer to Merrills recently, particularly to its corporate finance people. I suspect the advice as to who to instruct came from them."
Merrills handled its own financial advice work in-house, while MAM used City banker, Lazards.
Linklaters remained good-natured about the situation, with a spokeswoman saying: "Naturally, we are disappointed that Freshfields is handling this particular transaction, but we do have a strong relationship with Merrills, and we are continuing to work with the company on many other projects."
Both firms are regularly instructed by Merrills on many third-party deals, where the bank acts as financial adviser.
Freshfields partner Barry O'Brien led a team comprising 20 lawyers in London, plus lawyers in the Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Brussels offices.
Allen & Overy, which advises MAM with Lovell White Durrant and Simmons & Simmons, won the job of advising MAM.
The acquisition will take the total assets managed by Merrill Lynch from $272bn to $449bn.