Essar calls on Herbert Smith for telecoms showdown

Herbert Smith has scooped a role advising new client Essar in its $16bn (£8.27bn) bid for Hutchison Essar.

Linklaters is advising regular client Vodafone on its potential bid for India’s fourth-largest mobile operator.

Linklaters corporate partner Iain Fenn is leading the team for Vodafone on its highly contested bid for the privately owned business.

At the time of going to press, Essar Group, the Indian minority partner, which owns approximately 30 per cent of the target, had reportedly secured financing for the remaining stake in the business, which is owned by Hong Kong group Hutchison Telecom.

Essar Group’s financier, understood to be a consortium including Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanely and Standard Chartered Bank, is set to start its due diligence exercise.

Hutchison, which owns the remaining 70 per cent stake in the mobile phone joint venture, is being represented by longstanding adviser Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The Freshfields team is being led by London partner Perry Noble and corporate partner Rob Ashworth in Hong Kong.

Vodafone faces fierce competition from other Indian mobile operators, including Reliance Communications, India’s second-largest mobile operator.

Reliance is being advised by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, with a team led by Paris-based partner Pierre-Yves Chabert on the corporate side and partner Andrew Shutter on the finance side.

Vodafone’s potential bid is understood to value Hutchison Essar at between $18bn (£9.3bn) and $19bn (£9.82bn).