Ashurst Morris Crisp has secured Randgold Resources as a client following a conflict at the company's usual adviser Norton Rose.
Randgold is poised to table a counter-bid for Ghanaian mining company Ashanti Goldfield. However Ashanti, a target for both Randgold and Anglo-American subsidiary AngloGold, has instructed Norton Rose on the deal.
Randgold's financial adviser HSBC suggested Ashursts as a replacement. Randgold was also introduced to Norton Rose by HSBC, which recommended the firm, its own main corporate legal adviser, for Randgold's Nasdaq listing in June 2002.
Randgold was introduced to Ashursts when the company tabled a formal offer to buy Ashanti in September. The offer followed the announcement of a recommended merger with Ashanti by AngloGold on 4 August. Then, on 14 October, AngloGold raised its all-share offer to about $1.47bn (£869.2m), from $1.09bn (£644.4m).
Although AngloGold's offer was short of Randgold's, it won the support of Ashanti's board and, crucially, the company's key shareholder Lonmin. Reports suggest that Ashanti feels the larger AngloGold has more to offer than Randgold.
Randgold is now expected to raise its offer for Ashanti.
AngloGold is being advised by Shearman & Sterling's London-based corporate partners Bonnie Greaves and George Casey. The US firm has a good relationship with AngloGold overseas but it is understood that this is the first time the firm's London office has advised the company. In the UK AngloGold has relationships with a number of firms, including Addleshaw Goddard legacy firm Theodore Goddard.
The Norton Rose team advising Ashanti is led by corporate partners Mark Bankes, Nick Adams and Raj Karia. The firm's relationship with Ashanti dates back to 1994 when the company was floated in London. Ashanti is also receiving local law advice from Ghanaian firm Tetteh & Co.
The Ashursts team is being led by investment banking partners Paul Gadd and Philip Broke.