Shearman lands Selfridges bid after Linklaters conflict

Shearman & Sterling has scooped instructions from new Linklaters client Robert Tchenguiz, because the magic circle firm was conflicted out after advising on a competing bid for luxury department store chain Selfridges.

Shortly after Canadian billionaire Galen Weston announced his £598m recommended cash offer for Selfridges, Aletheia Partners and the co-owner of Rotch Properties Tchenguiz said they may make a competing bid for Selfridges.

It is understood that the Aletheia consortium has financial backing from Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, who has pledged to invest around £100m.

Linklaters advised Aletheia, which was co-founded by Tchenguiz and Scott Lanphere, when it acquired Odeon, the UK’s largest cinema chain, in March, but was conflicted out on Selfridges.

Shearman corporate partner Adrian Knight is leading on the deal, alongside finance partner Caroline Leedsruby. Shearman has connections to Lanphere, who was previously at Advent International

and who used the US firm on the HMV-EMI joint venture. Many City firms are conflicted out of the Selfridges deal, but the instruction is nevertheless a coup for Shearman.

Meanwhile, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw’s London office has won instructions to advise Weston. Although Weston has been a client of Mayer Brown in the US for some time, this is the first time the firm has advised Weston from London. Historically, the UK side of the Weston family has instructed Herbert Smith for UK-based deals.

Weston’s offer will be made by Morgan Stanley on behalf of Oxford Acquisitions, a subsidiary of Canadian company Whittington Investments, which is controlled by Weston and which holds a majority stake in George Weston Limited, one of the largest food processing and food distribution companies in North America.

Weston also controls Brown Thomas, the leading fashion store chain in Ireland, and Holt Renfrew, a chain of 12 luxury department stores in Canada.

Selfridges shareholders are being offered 392.25p per share, which represents a premium of approximately 60 per cent.

Tom Hunter, the Scottish entrepreneur who it is understood was being advised by KLegal’s Scottish firm McGrigor Donald, has announced that he is pulling out of the contest. Hunter triggered the auction for Selfridges early last month after tabling a fully-funded bid of around 340p per share, subject to due diligence.

Mayer Brown corporate partners Paul Maher, Andrew Stewart and Fiona Holland are advising Oxford Acquisitions and Whittington Investments. Toronto-based firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson provided Canadian law advice on the deal.

Meanwhile, Selfridges is being advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partners Christopher Bown and Edward Braham. The firm has acted for the chain store since it was spun off from clothes retailer Sears in 1998. The management is being represented separately by Macfarlanes partner Charles Martin.