Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) could be in line to take over from Slaughter and May as Arsenal Football Club’s lead law firm after advising Russian steel billionaire Alisher Usmanov on his purchase of a 14 per cent stake in the club.
The Russia desk at FFW scored its most high-profile role yet, advising Usmanov and London business associate Farhad Moshiri on the purchase of a £75m stake from former Arsenal chairman David Dein.
Their investment company, Red and White Holdings, is now the third-largest shareholder in the club and has plans to build on its position.
Russia desk head Alex Woodfield, along with corporate partners Neil Foster, David Wilkinson and Antony Brockbank, advised on the deal.
Red and White will have to steer any takeover through hostile board members, which have locked their 45 per cent stake until April next year. Red and White has brought in Dein to lead the negotiations.
Woodfield said: “We’re certainly likely to get some sort of dialogue going with the board. They chucked Dein off in April and now he’s back to being a public figure, having aligned his interests with our client.”
Red and White has not made contact with the Arsenal board at this stage, or with Slaughter and May corporate partner Nigel Boardman, the firm’s relationship partner for the club.
Woodfield’s relationship with Usmanov began in 1999 after a recommendation from Moshiri and continued when Woodfield moved to FFW in 2005 from K&L Gates.
FFW instructed media boutique Schillings to handle reputation management for Usmanov and Moshiri. Travers Smith is advising David Dein on the sale of his shares and on employment matters.