Linklaters & Alliance's Paris office has snatched the work on the billion pound merger of French supermarkets Carrefour and Promodes from under the nose of rival Gide Loyrette Nouel.
The French arm of investment bank Rothschild is advising supermarket giant Carrefour on its euro13bn “friendly merger” with Promodes but has snubbed its usual legal adviser Gide in favour of Linklaters.
According to sources close to the deal, Rothschild was keen to work with Parisian mergers and acquisitions heavyweight Thierry Vassogne.
Vassogne transferred from Gide to Linklaters late last year with two other M&A partners and a team of five assistants in a move that reportedly infuriated the French firm, which has since accused UK firms of aggressive poaching tactics.
An industry source says: “Rothschild took the attitude that it really wanted to work with Vassogne for a deal of this size as it felt confident with him and his very good team. So it was ready to engage the firm that Vassogne worked for.”
Clifford Chance's Paris office is acting for Carrefour with M&A partner Pierre Verkhovskoy leading a team which includes partner Mireille Dany advising on competition issues.
Niche Parisian firm Bredin Prat is advising Promodes, with Didier Martin leading the team and Societe Generale is providing financial advice.
The merger, which is effectively a takeover by Carrefour of Promodes, as Carrefour will own 70 per cent of the new group's shares, will create the world's second-largest shopping chain.
However, if rumours are to be believed Clifford Chance may find itself trying to fight off a hostile takeover bid of Carrefour from other supermarket giants.
Both Dutch retail group Royal Ahold and US giant and world number one Wal-Mart, which recently purchased Asda, are thought to be interested.
However, Verkhovskoy believes that Ahold would not be able to carry out such a large deal as it has recently taken on a lot of debt from US expansion.
Wal-Mart is a more credible threat as it recently tried to buy two supermarkets in the south of France from national chain Auchan.
Rothschild and Vassogne were unavailable for comment.