Law firms gorge on Safeway bidders

As the battle for Safeway continued to hot up last week, conflicts paved the way for further law firms to get a piece of the action

Allen & Overy (A&O), which initially lost out to Ashurst Morris Crisp on advising Morrisons, received instructions from both Morrisons' lender ABN Amro and financial adviser to Wal-Mart Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (as revealed on email service The Lawyer News Weekly, 22 January).

This left the door open for Simmons & Simmons and Norton Rose to score work for Philip Green and financial backers WestLB, respectively (as revealed on news on 21 and 24 January).

Simmons was recommended by Lord Grabiner QC, chairman of Arcadia and head of One Essex Court, who has previously worked closely with Simmons head of competition Peter Freeman. Simmons previously lost out to Slaughter and May on the Wal-Mart bid.

Norton Rose has advised WestLB in the past, most notably working with broker Robin Saunders on the Railtrack bid.

Latham & Watkins be-came the first US firm to join the fray, winning an instruction from J Sainsbury backers UBS Warburg and Goldman Sachs (first revealed on lawyernews, 22 January).

•See page 11 for Dearbail Jordan's inside track on how the Takeover Panel will respond.