Weil loses out on United Biscuits deal

Premier backed out of the bid for United Biscuits today, taking its legal advisers at Weil Gotshal & Manges with it.

Although it had been reported that Premier could not raise sufficient funds for the bid, a source told The Lawyer that the company, whose brands include Branston and Ambrosia, was not prepared to pay the asking price.

With Premier no longer in the running for United Biscuits (UB), the sole bidder for the maker of Jaffa Cakes and McVitie’s remains US private equity house, Blackstone.

UB’s general counsel Mark Oldham instructed an Allen & Overy team led by David Wootton to represent it in the auction, which could value the company at £1.7bn.

Blackstone, which last year acquired the European drinks interests of Cadbury Schweppes, is instructing a team at Herbert Smith led by James Milne and Mark Geday, as well as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

The bowing out of Premier also removes any issues of conflict that may have been directed at A&O. As well as representing UB, the magic circle firm was also acting on the financing of Premier’s bid.

The firm told The Lawyer (see www.thelawyer.com on September 11) that it had gained clearance from the Law Society for its dual role.