Freshfields has usurped Rowe & Maw to advise EMI Group on its multi-billion pound joint venture with Time Warner.
Charles Ashcroft, company secretary and group general counsel at EMI, says the company chose Freshfields because of its experience in tax and anti-trust matters.
But he adds: “At this stage it is possible that Rowe & Maw will have a role in the significant restructuring needed to achieve this transaction.”
A spokesman at Rowe & Maw says: “We hope that we will have a role acting for EMI in this exciting transaction.”
Freshfields is acting with US firm Davis Polk & Wardwell on the £12.5bn deal after EMI's other US corporate adviser, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, was conflicted out.
Mark Rawlinson, corporate partner at Freshfields, says: “It is not a strightforward merger and it has thrown up a few issues that needed thinking about.”
Phillip Mills, a partner at Davis Polk, is leading a team of 14 New York-based lawyers on the deal.
James Palmer and Gareth Roberts, both corporate partners at Herbert Smith, are heading a team of 12 representing Time Warner on its venture, with Cravath Swaine & Moore providing US legal advice.
It is the second major deal Herbert Smith has won from the media conglomerate. It is also advising on Time Warner's £96bn merger with internet giant America Online.