Freshfields pulls off a hat-trick with Scottish Power's bid for Pacificorps

Freshfields' reputation for international mega-merger work was strengthened this week after it completed work for Scottish Power on the company's u4.2bn takeover of US generator Pacificorps.

Scottish Power is the first-ever UK electricity utility to acquire a US power business.

Only four weeks ago, The Lawyer revealed that Freshfields had been appointed legal adviser to US oil firm Amoco in its u67.5bn merger with UK oil giant BP.

Both deals demonstrate the success of Freshfields' strategy to tackle the kind of corporate mega-deals more usually associated with Linklaters and Slaughter and May.

Freshfields has also enhanced its bid to become a major player in mergers and acquisitions by acting for drugs group Zeneca in the biggest-ever pharmaceuticals merger seen in Europe.

UK-based Zeneca is on the verge of merging with the Swedish pharmaceuticals giant Astra to form one of the biggest pharmaceutical firms in the world, with a market capitalisation of u42.4bn.

A partner in a rival City firm said: “Freshfields has had a very good run this year, having improved its position in M&A considerably.”

The Pacificorps deal is the third Freshfields has done for Scottish Power: the firm has also acted for the utility in its two big UK mergers with ManWeb and Southern Water.

Freshfields' team of a dozen lawyers was led by corporate partner Simon Marchant, who gained valuable US experience when advising on the ultimately unsuccessful BT/MCI telecoms merger.

“The whole of the regulatory side of this deal was greenfield work,” said Marchant.

“US and UK takeover rules are very different, so striking a balance between the two is interesting. We also did a lot of work on structure and tax.”

Partners Rachel Brandenburger and Colin Hargreaves led teams on regulation and tax respectively, while New York firm Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy handled US matters for Scottish Power.

Meanwhile, Linklaters, which acted for BP in the deal with Amoco, is also acting for Pacificorps in London, with a team led by partner Tony Hickinbotham.

In the US, Pacificorps is also using Oregon firm Stoel Rives, and in New York, LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae.