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The Lawyer can reveal that General Electric (GE) switched antitrust counsel part way through its recent £5.7bn acquisition of UK healthcare group Amersham, which completed a fortnight ago, replacing Slaughter and May with Clifford Chance.
GE is Clifford Chance's single biggest antitrust client, but the company usually gives Slaughters some of its high-end UK corporate work. There is no love lost between the two firms over this client.
When GE first planned its Amersham bid, Clifford Chance's competition department and European head of competition Simon Baxter were heavily committed to clearing the GE-Instrumentarium merger, so the US conglomerate had to look elsewhere for competition advice.
This gave Slaughters' competition team, usually an automatic choice for M&A clients, a shot at a much-coveted GE relationship. However, part way through the deal, when Clifford Chance's Instrumen-tarium workload eased, GE turned to its old firm, thwarting Slaughters' ambitions.