Slaughter and May woos back Hugh Osmond

Slaughter and May has won back key client Hugh Osmond with instructions on Sun Capital's £7bn bid for Six Continents and several other embryonic projects

However, in what will be seen as a highly symbolic move, Slaughters' fees on all the projects, including the Six Continents bid, have a contingent element.

Alongside the battle for Safeway, on which Slaughters also has a lead role, entrepreneur Osmond's planned attack on Six Continents is virtually the only deal in town.

Head of corporate Nigel Boardman is heading the Six Continents deal personally, supported by partner Andy Ryde. Fees on the public bid will be charged incrementally, depending on how far it proceeds. On Osmond's smaller deals, the firm's fees will have a larger contingent element.

Osmond is a highly desirable client, so Slaughters' charm offensive comes as no surprise, but the firm is not the only one vying for his affections. Sources at Clifford Chance, who Osmond instructed for the first time last year, claim the firm is still first choice for Sun Capital. A Slaughters source, however, disputed this, saying his firm is now back as Osmond's main adviser. To complicate matters, it is understood that Osmond has also instructed a third magic circle firm on a prospective deal.

Osmond turned to Clifford Chance with an instruction on the failed Travelodge deal because Slaughters was conflicted. He also gave the firm work on bids for Center Parcs and Pizza Express. The timing coincided with the relocation of Osmond's relationship partner at Slaughters, Neil Hyman, to Hong Kong.

Clifford Chance is currently advising SSSB, the financial adviser on the demerger of Six Continents; a Clifford Chance source said the firm turned Osmond away because there could be a conflict with SSSB if the bid becomes hostile.

Linklaters, which is advising Six Continents, is understood to have billed around £3.5m on the deal. This is a small slice of the £51m handed out to all corporate advisers, but it is understood that Linklaters billed purely on a time-costed basis.