Weil draws a blank as Apax’s House of Fraser bid collapses

Weil Gotshal & Manges has been left empty-handed after talks between client Apax Partners and House of Fraser ended last Friday (17 March).

It is understood that the US firm, led by partner Mark Soundy, had been advising Apax Partners on its preliminary takeover bid for department store retailer House of Fraser.

However, it emerged late last week that talks had ended because the two sides had failed to agree a valuation for House of Fraser.

The demise of the merger talks is a blow for Weil. Since securing its place on Apax’s coveted panel in February 2005, the firm is understood to have won a series of mandates, but few of the deals have been successful.

Weil is understood to have secured the role on the now defunct merger talks ahead of the buyout house’s other panel advisers, Ashurst and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

House of Fraser, which was advised by longstanding corporate adviser Slaughter and May, revealed late last month that it had received a “very preliminary approach” that could lead to a bid for the company. But talks did not pass the preliminary stages and no due diligence was carried out.

Speculation that a formal bid of at least 140p a share in cash would be made for the retailer had seen its share price increase rapidly. However, the collapse of the talks resulted in its share price tumbling.

Soundy has worked closely with Apax for several years, advising it while at his former firm Travers Smith, a long-time adviser to Apax, but which missed out on a panel place last year.