Slaughter and May has strengthened its corporate ties with Associated British Ports (ABP), with the firm set to advise on a possible bid by a consortium led by Goldman Sachs.
The investment bank has confirmed that it has been working on a potential bid with Canadian and Singaporean investors that could value the UK ports group at more than £2bn.
ABP general counsel Andrew Garner said Slaughter and May had been appointed to the company's panel as corporate advisers and would be asked to act if a bid presented itself.
Slaughters corporate finance partner Richard de Carle is the relationship partner for ABP.
ABP, the UK's largest ports operator, has requested that the consortium put its intentions in writing before talks can begin.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partners Edward Braham and David Higgins are lead advisers to the consortium. O'Melveny & Myers corporate partner Chris Ashworth is understood to be advising consortium member GIC Special Investments, while Canadian firm Torys is acting for the third member, Borealis Infrastructure Management.
Another buyer thought to be interested in ABP is Hong Kong conglomerate Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings, which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa, a historic Freshfields client.
If a bid materialises, it will be the first major corporate deal that ABP's general counsel Andrew Garner has worked on since taking up the new role in October last year.