Norton Rose, Linklaters & Alliance and Slaughter and May are gearing up for a few weeks of tactical fun as the merger between housebuilders Beazer and Bryant looks set to turn hostile now that Taylor Woodrow has entered the fray.

Norton Rose, led by corporate partner Barbara Stephenson with senior corporate associate Julian Stanier, is acting for long-time client Taylor Woodrow, which announced its intention to bid for Bryant just two hours before an extraordinary general meeting on 15 January, which would have finalised the merger between Beazer and Bryant. Stephenson has acted for Taylor Woodrow for more than 15 years, and the firm’s last significant deal was the £76.4m disposal of its subsidiary Greenham Trading, to Bunzl (The Lawyer, 4 September). Norton Rose now has 28 days to file an offer document under the takeover timetable.

This is the second potential hostile deal this year, the other being the Bank of Scotland and Abbey National talks, which Lloyds TSB is intent on gatecrashing. Slaughter and May, which is acting for Beazer and also happens to be representing Abbey National, is already shaping up to have an interesting year.