Foster's have shunned its long-term legal adviser Corrs Chambers Westgarth on what could be one of the biggest M&A deals of the year.
Yesterday (21 June) Foster's announced it had knocked back a proposed $9.5 billion takeover from the British based SABMiller group. Foster's have been advised by Allens Arthur Robinson in negotiations with SAB Miller, at the expense of its usual external legal adviser, Corrs.
Sydney based partner Ewen Crouch and Melbourne based capital markets group co-head Robert Pick are leading the Allens team.
Senior lawyers with links to Corrs have told Lawyers Weekly that the firm would be extremely concerned that a key client such as Foster's would use a rival firm for a proposed transaction of this magnitude.
Corrs declined to comment when contacted by Lawyers Weekly.
Foster's is one of Corrs' biggest and longest standing clients, going back as far as when the company first listed in the early 1980's and including the period when the controversial John Elliott was its head. Most recently, Corrs acted for the brewing giant on the demerger of its wine and beer business, with the firm providing extensive advice on this project for over one year and netting over $10 million in fees.
Allen & Overy is acting for SABMiller, beating the likes of Baker & McKenzie, which has also regularly acted for the company in the past.
M&A partners Aaron Kenavan and Michael Parshall are leading the firm's team, with support from anti-trust partner Dave Poddar and banking partner Adam Stapledon.
After Foster's rejected SABMiller's $4.90 a share takeover offer, most analysts predicted that it would have to increase its offer to somewhere closer to $5.50 a share. Foster's share price surged after the announcement it had rejected the offer, reaching over $5.20 a share at the time of going to press. Foster's shares closed at $4.53 on Monday (20 June).
SABMiller, which was founded in 1895 in South Africa, has brands including Castle Lager, Peroni, Miller Lite and Grolsch in its portfolio. The company has indicated that it remains interested in purchasing Foster's.