Clifford Chance's appointment to advise Glaxo on its u9 billion offer for rival company Wellcome – the City's second biggest-ever bid – has got the City talking.
Lawyers agree Clifford Chance would be one of the top four names to appear on the shopping list for players in big merger and acquisition deals.
But while the firm is a strong all-rounder it is better known for its pre-eminent banking practice. With corporate deal work, some suggest the first choice might have been Linklaters & Paines or Freshfields.
Clifford Chance won the work after Slaughter and May, which acts as corporate lawyers to both companies, was conflicted out and stayed with the bid target. Freshfields is conflicted out because it is advising Wellcome's bankers Baring Brothers and Morgan Stanley.
Linklaters may in fact have been considered conflicted out, having previously advised major shareholder Wellcome Trust's bankers Flemings on the Wellcome flotation.
City lawyers agree the bid work will be good for Clifford Chance's corporate reputation.
The Lawyer survey showed last year that the firm's regular corporate clients tend to be fewer top 100 companies and more top 300 companies.
Cameron Markby Hewitt is advising the Wellcome Trust in the bid. Herbert Smith acts for Lazard Brothers, financial advisers to Glaxo.