Thomson enlists Slaughters to fight C&N bid
Firm gets ready to battle with A&O in takeover which could turn hostile if Thomson continues to reject German bid
Slaughter and May is gearing up for a hostile takeover battle after picking up a new billion-pound client, C&N Touristic, the German travel group that bid £1.3bn for Thomson Travel.Slaughters picked up the work after C&N Touristic’s financial advisers recommended the firm.Led by corporate partner Robert Stern, the firm is understood to have referred the German aspects of the deal to its best friend in Frankfurt, Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz. Slaughters will come face-to-face with a team from Allen & Overy (A&O) led by corporate partner David Wootton who is advising his long-standing client Thomson. Freshfields is advising the financial advisers to the deal, Commerzbank and Lazards. And Clifford Chance’s banking practice is advising Commerzbank as lender to the deal.The bid from C&N – a joint venture between Lufthansa and retailer Karstadt formed in 1998 – was made on 4 April, but was rejected by Thomson on the grounds that it was financially insufficient. Thomson rejected the offer, despite having recently undergone a boardroom upheaval provoked by a series of profit warnings.There have been suggestions that Thomson will accept a higher bid such as 150p a share, which would value the company at £1.5bn. But if Thomson continues to resist, C&N could turn hostile. A successful deal would create the largest tourism group in Europe with combined sales of £6bn and pre-tax profits of £190m.The bid is the latest example of a wave of consolidation in the European travel industry. In 1998, German travel and industrial group Preussag acquired Thomas Cook. Last year, UK company Airtours and Switzerland-based Kuoni launched rival bids for First Choice Holidays. Both bids failed. And last month C&N began talks to acquire French travel company Havas Voyages.
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