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Lawyers from Linklaters and Slaughter and May found themselves on the sidelines of a courtroom tussle last week as a scheme of arrangement hearing for the merger of engineering giants BTR and Siebe turned into a clash between some disgruntled shareholders and the judge.Seven of about 100,000 shareholders objected to the merger on grounds of a technicality. But those in court claimed that the motive behind the action was the shareholders felt they were getting a bad deal out of the £7.6bn merger. The shareholders accused BTR of misusing proxy votes, but the court ruled against them on the grounds that the merger was a satisfactory deal.The legal teams representing BTR and Siebe were split over their interpretation of the events. A source close to Siebe predicted such objections would become more frequent as well-informed shareholders become more active in defending their share in a company, however small that share is. But a lawyer from the BTR side was more cagey saying it “remained to be seen” whether the trend would develop. Both sides did agree, however, that the objection had put the deal back a few days and indeed, been a waste of time.

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