Rival bidders for Wembley opt for A&O and Linklaters

The hotly-contested battle to take over greyhound racing and gaming group Wembley has gifted Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters new clients.

Linklaters scored an instruction from the original bidder, the US hotel and gaming resort operator MGM Mirage. MGM held a beauty parade between Linklaters and one other magic circle firm to find its UK adviser and Linklaters is now advising on the Wembley bid as well as on MGM’s other UK expansion plans.

Linklaters has scooped much of the US advice on Wembley, although MGM has also retained its usual US adviser, Los Angeles firm Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro.

A&O, meanwhile, won an instruction from BLB, the late entrant into the contest, but now the frontrunner. It is unclear how the magic circle firm won the mandate, but it is understood that it had a prior informal relationship with one of the consortium members.

BLB is made up of property investor Starwood Capital and Kerzner, the US arm of Sol Kerzner’s family empire, and the US-based Waterford Group.

However, although A&O’s New York office is advising BLB on US takeover law, the firm missed out on handling the financing, which went to White & Case. A source close to the deal said White & Case was brought in because BLB was raising funds in the US and because the US firm was already advising Starwood.

The Wembley saga was kick-started when MGM announced a recommended cash offer of £7.50 per share on 27 January.
However, MGM’s scheme of arrangement-structured bid was trumped by a competing offer from BLB of £8 per share on 30 March.

MGM then raised its offer to £8.40 per share on 8 April, only to be overtaken by a revised bid from BLB of £8.60 on 20 April. Following the revised offer, Wembley and BLB announced jointly that if a higher bid was not made for the target company, then Wembley’s board would recommend BLB.

The Linklaters team is led by corporate partner Roger Barron, while A&O corporate partner Alan Paul is advising BLB. Clifford Chance corporate partner Richard Sutton-Mattocks is acting for Wembley, a longstanding client of the magic circle firm.