A&O risks losing client as it fields takeover bid

Allen & Overy is trying to retain its long-term client Bristol United Press (BUP) as the company undergoes a multimillion pound takeover.

A&O, which has represented BUP since 1991, is currently fielding a £121.5m offer from Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), which is being advised by Freshfields. Julian Long, corporate partner at Freshfields, is heading a team of three on the deal.

David Wootton, senior corporate partner at A&O, is heading a team of five which includes corporate partner Gillian Holgate and competition partner John Wotton.

Wootton hopes that the firm will continue its relationship with the company after this latest deal is completed in January. But he adds: “If the deal is successful Bristol United Press will cease to be a listed company and will not need the same sort of advice.

“Daily Mail & General Trust has indicated, however, that it would like the existing management and board to stay in place. Obviously we want to keep them as a client.”

A&O first acted for BUP in 1991, when the Sunday Sport owner David Sullivan purchased a 10 per cent stake in the company and attempted to take a seat on the board. A&O was appointed to resist the move.

The DMGT transaction is the second major publishing deal for both firms this year.

A&O is advising United News & Media on its merger with Carlton Communications (The Lawyer, 29 November). And in July, Freshfields acted for US company Gannett on its £904m bid for UK newspaper group Newsquest.