City trio earns millions in Allied Domecq sale

Magic Circle firms Slaughter and May, Linklaters and Clifford Chance are understood to have made millions out of the complex and bitter struggle for the control of Allied Domecq's pub chain.

The multi-million pound fees paid out by the three parties involved in the epic buyout struggle have been widely criticised by shareholders.

A 25-lawyer Slaughter and May team advised Punch Taverns on the u2.75bn deal, which involved tricky manoeuvres to raise u1.3bn debt.

Punch Taverns spent u100m on various fees resulting from the deal and while the majority of that went to investment banks Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, which advised on the debt, it is estimated by sources close to the deal that Slaughter and May has made between u2m and u2.5m.

Slaughter and May corporate partner Neil Hyman led the team together with James Featherby, Marc Hutchinson and Richard DeCarle. All were unavailable for comment.

Allied Domecq, which was advised by Linklaters and Goldman Sachs, announced last week that it had spent u27m on various fees. It is not clear how much Linklaters has made out of that sum.

Whitbread, which was beaten at the last minute in the deal by Punch Taverns, managed to keep costs relatively contained at u8m to u10m. It was advised by a team of 20 lawyers from Clifford Chance, led by senior corporate partner Jeremy Brownlow.

“Punch Taverns' fees were so much more because of the structure of the debt,” says a spokeswoman for the company, who expressed surprise that Whitbread had not spent more given that it had been preparing the deal for several months.

Punch Tavern's fees were revealed at an angry shareholders' meeting last week.