After winning back Baugur as a client last December, Allen & Overy (A&O) appears to be losing its grip on the Icelandic retail investor again. The firm missed out on advising Baugur on its plans to buy high street women’s fashion chain Jane Norman for around £100m. Baugur, which is understood to have entered exclusive talks to buy the chain, has brought in Pinsent Masons to handle the deal. Pinsents won the mandate thanks to its relationship with Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which will provide equity and debt. The Pinsents team is led by partners Andrew Masraf and Roger Fink (pictured). Meanwhile, A&O’s role on the £1.1bn bid for Somerfield came to a spectacular halt after Baugur pulled out of the Robert Tchenguiz-led consortium last month. A&O had exclusive ties with Baugur until it was sidelined by niche Stoke-on-Trent firm Heatons, which scooped Baugur in November 2003 and has since advised it on a string of deals.
The collapse of MG Rover has turned into a feeding frenzy for lawyers, with several law firms landing important advisory roles. But for Herbert Smith the collapse of the Birmingham-based car manufacturer gifted the City firm two instructions – both from new clients. As first reported on www.thelawyer.com (26 July), Herbert Smith landed Nanjing Automobile as a new client after advising the Chinese group on its successful acquisition of the assets of MG Rover. The firm is also advising new client Phoenix Venture Holdings and the so-called ‘Phoenix Four’, the controlling directors of MG Rover. Herbert Smith won the mandate to act for Nanjing following a recommendation from client Arup. Engineering consultancy Arup advised Nanjing and may take stakes in the UK arm of the company. Nanjing beat rival bidder Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, advised by Baker & McKenzie, to MG Rover. The deal was signed last Friday (22 July) for an undisclosed sum – although, according to reports, Nanjing paid around £50m for the assets. Eversheds, led by partners Simon Waller and Louise Pheasant, is advising MG Rover.