Two firms not best known for M&A work, KLegal and Olswang, are believed to be working on bids for upmarket department store chain Selfridges, making it the second takeover bid on which they have been up against one another in 2003.

KLegal’s Scottish firm McGrigor Donald is understood to be acting for Scottish entrepreneur Tom Hunter on his bid for Selfridges, although the firm declined to comment last week. It also advised West Coast Capital, Hunter’s investment fund, on its earlier failed attempt at a hostile takeover of Allders.

Olswang advised property company Minerva on its £158m purchase of Allders, and is also believed to be acting for it on the Selfridges bid.

Selfridges launched an auction process in early April and it is believed that Hunter has tabled a fully-funded bid of around 340p per share, subject to due diligence. Selfridges is being advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Chris Bown and Edward Braham. Freshfields has acted for the chain store since it spun off from clothes retailer Sears in 1998. Merrill Lynch has been instructed by Selfridges to conduct the formal auction process.

Minerva has been an important Olswang property and corporate client since its creation in 1990. The firm’s chief executive Jonathan Goldstein has a close personal relationship with the property company’s chief executive Andrew Rosenfeld. Goldstein led the Allders takeover for Minerva and Scarlett Retail, a 60 per cent Minerva-owned consortium.

McGrigors has worked for Hunter since he instructed the firm on the sale of the business of Sports Division to JJB Sports three years ago. Hunter also used KLegal for his failed talks to merge House of Fraser with Allders.