Travers wins Steinhoff mandate as it battles Sainsbury’s for Home Retail

Travers Smith is advising South African retail chain Steinhoff International in its bidding war with Sainsbury’s for Home Retail Group.

Steinhoff lists a number of firms as its main legal advisers, including Linklaters, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and Werksmans.

However, Linklaters partners Owen Clay and Nick Garland are already working with the target Home Retail, with the magic circle firm believed to side with the target normally if a number of their key clients are involved.

Steinhoff therefore approached Travers Smith corporate finance and M&A partners Andrew Gillen and Philip Cheveley for advice, after the company last week trumped Sainsbury’s January offer for Home Retail.

Sainsbury’s revealed at the start of the year it was considering a bid for Argos owner Home Retail, turning to Clifford Chance partners Patrick Sarch and Guy Norman, as well as finance head Michael Bates and antitrust partner Alastair Mordaunt.

Like Steinhoff, the supermarket also had to look outside its traditional remit for advice, with Linklaters generally regarded as being Sainsbury’s main legal counsel.

While Sainsbury’s initial offer for Home Retail Group was for 161.3p per share, Steinhoff’s rival bid is considerably higher and would give Home Retail shareholders approximately 175p per share.

Both Sainsbury’s and Steinhoff now have until 18 March to make a formal binding offer for Home Retail, putting both companies on the same timetable.

Background to the deal 

Although Travers is not listed as being one of Steinhoff’s main legal advisers, it does have strong connections to the company.

The firm won the furniture maker as a client back in 2001, when Gillen worked on its offer for Relyon back in 2001. Gillen further represented the furniture maker on its investment in Homestyle Group four years later.

Steinhoff’s rival bid for Home Retail has meant Sainsbury’s deadline to make a firm offer has been extended, with the latter first making a failed approach to Home Retail back in November.