It is understood that Freshfields is advising a group of lending banks who are set to back Osmond, including Credit Suisse First Boston and Lehman Brothers – both of which are acting as financial advisers.
Hilton has not yet made public its intentions towards troubled hotels and pub group 6C, but is actively considering its position.
Hilton's usual corporate adviser Slaughter and May initially continued to advise the hotel chain while also acting for Osmond. But sources at the firm say it withdrew almost immediately, leaving the way clear for Freshfields.
Freshfields' dual role has client consent and sources inside the firm claim it was perfectly proper to accept both instructions. However, the 6C battle is likely to develop into a hostile and hotly contested public takeover.
Freshfields' role is more significant than merely advising a financial adviser. The lending banks are de facto in a consortium with Osmond because he has no capital to put behind the bid, effectively leaving Freshfields to advise two competing bidders.
However, the Hilton instruction is a coup for Freshfields because the hotel chain is a solid corporate client of Slaughters. If Hilton's management feels Osmond was prioritised by Slaughters, Freshfields' corporate team may well see it as a good opportunity to muscle in.