Herbies scoops JC Flowers bid for Northern Rock

JC Flowers has confounded expectations by turning to Herbert Smith for advice on its approach to beleaguered mortgage lender Northern Rock.

Corporate partner Anthony Macaulay is reportedly leading the Herbert Smith team for the US private equity house, which is yet to make a concrete offer for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer client Northern Rock, although it has already undertaken due diligence.

It is unclear how Herbert Smith landed the choice instruction, although its Dutch ally Stibbe advised JC Flowers alongside the house’s more regular adviser Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton on its last significant European transaction, the £2bn sale of Dutch bank NIBC to Allen & Overy client Kaupthing (www.thelawyer.com, 15 August).

Historically, JC Flowers has used New York M&A powerhouse Sullivan & Cromwell.

JC Flowers is one of the only interested parties in Northern Rock, which had to secure emergency funding from the Bank of England, which has since instructed Clifford Chance, as revealed yesterday by www.thelawyer.com.

But US hedge fund and Ashurst client Cerberus could still make an approach. Meanwhile, Slaughter and May nabbed a role on the deal by advising the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on their advice to Northern Rock.

Bingham McCutchen is also involved, advising Northern Rock’s creditors on protecting their interests throughout the bank’s crisis.

Herbert Smith declined to comment.