Links scores Centrica mandate as British Energy battle hots up

Links scores Centrica mandate as British Energy battle hots upLinklaters has waded into the multibillion-pound battle for control of nuclear power station operator British Energy.

The firm won an instruction from utilities and British Gas parent company Centrica, which emerged last week as a potential ­bidder for British Energy following the withdrawal of France’s EDF Energy.

British Energy is being represented by Clifford Chance, led by London-based corporate partner Mark Poulton.

EDF, which is understood to have called on Herbert Smith, was in merger talks with British Energy but negotiations reportedly broke down over the price of the deal.

Herbert Smith has a ­longstanding relationship with EDF and was chosen by the French utility in 2007 to help it find suitable nuclear sites in the UK.
The firm this week declined to comment.

On Monday of last week (4 ;August) ;Centrica announced that it was in discussions ;with ;an unnamed third party about taking a minority stake in British Energy in the event of a merger.

The company added that if no deal took place it would consider other options, including a full merger.

The British government, which owns a significant stake in British Energy, is being represented by Slaughter and May. Ministers had backed EDF’s £12bn bid as the best way of ensuring the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

Centrica said it could also play a role in the creation of new generators. The ­company’s general counsel, former Jones Day partner Peter Roberts, calls on a panel of firms including Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Eversheds, Herbert Smith, Linklaters and Slaughter and May.

EDF is 85 per cent owned by the French government. Its parent company, Électricité de France, is the world’s largest generator of nuclear power.