Skadden picked as Ford listens to offers for Aston Martin

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s London office has scooped its first-ever mandate to advise Ford on its multimillion-pound disposal of the Aston Martin luxury car range.

The New York heavyweight’s City arm landed the role thanks to Ford’s longstanding relationship with Skadden in the US. The team is being led by London-based corporate partner Scott Simpson, who also headed the team advising Arcelor on last year’s ?26.9bn (£17.72bn) hotly contested takeover by Mittal.

Ford’s board shortlisted private equity houses Permira and Doughty Hanson, among others, for the acquisition of Aston Martin – the brand made famous for its appearances in the James Bond films. The deal has been valued in excess of £600m.

Doughty Hanson traditionally favours long-term legal adviser Skadden. But in this instance the private equity house has instructed its secondary adviser Ashurst because the US firm is acting for the seller. The Ashurst team is being led by head of private equity Charlie Geffen.

In the summer of 2005 Skadden advised Doughty Hanson on the £1bn flotation of its UK food manufacturing arm and the sale of Priory Group, the celebrity rehabilitation chain.

Clifford Chance partner Matthew Layton is understood to be heading the team advising Permira, which has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the firm.

The private equity funds are competing against a handful of other bidders. Magna International, the Canadian car parts maker, and Syrian-born billionaire Simon Halabi are believed to be among the shortlisted candidates.

UBS, the investment bank advising Ford on the sale, had called for final offers by the end of the month, but it is understood that the deadline could be delayed in a bid to drum up more interest in the business.