Corporate/Competition Review 2003: Corporate comment

Aside from the battle for Safeway and the Carlton-Granada merger, it has been a pretty quiet year in corporate, even if, like Allen & Overy (A&O), you insist on acting for more than one party on deals.

It is safe to say that if you are not a private equity lawyer, you have had plenty of time to surf the internet this year. Given that it is the only game in town, just about everybody has been trying to beef up their private equity practice.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer had a big push and won several major new clients, including CVC, Terra Firma and Apax.

The firm that made real headway is Linklaters, where Graham White, the firm’s lateral hire from SJ Berwin, really imposed himself on the market. However, right at the end of the year, Linklaters lost Paris private equity supremo David Aknin to Weil Gotshal & Manges. Linklaters also nabbed one of Freshfields’ trophy corporate clients, the Royal Bank of Scotland, although Freshfields will continue to do some finance work for the the bank.

Freshfields got in first, though, by muscling in on one of Linklaters’ best clients, Scottish & Newcastle. Linklaters also lost corporate star Peter King to Shearman & Sterling.
Elsewhere we were all kept amused by the battle between Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May for the attentions of Hugh Osmond. What we would all love to know is: is he really worth it?