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Deal Watch: Dentons & King & Spalding act on HR Owen hostile takeover bid as Freshfields and Skadden secure Asian M&A roles

While the traditional August lull in corporate work may have seen Asia relax, the giant is far from asleep and has gifted a number of transatlantic and Magic Circle firms with eye-catching international M&A deals.

Dentons led by corporate partner Jeremy Cohen is advising luxury car dealer HR Owen on the £32.5m hostile takeover bid by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Philippines, which HR Owen last week rejected as ‘derisory’.According to Cohen, Dentons, which has previously advised HR Owen out of its Milton Keynes office, advised on the defence and takeover roles.

Top 40 US firm King & Spalding led by London corporate partner William Charnley is advising Berjaya Philippines on the attempted takeover, which valued the company at 130 pence a share and will be voted on by shareholders later this month. Charnley, who has held roles as head of corporate finance at Simmons & Simmons and London managing partner of McDermott Will & Emery, joined King & Spalding’s London office in July last year.

The bidder has until 19 August to obtain the requisite level of acceptances by shareholders.

Elsewhere, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Reed Smith Richards Butler Hong Kong are advising leading UK retailer Tesco and China Resources Enterprise (CRE) respectively on talks to combine their Chinese retail operations to form a leading retailer in the People’s Republic. Tesco, which has been operating in China since 2004 and has 131 stores, is looking to combine with CRE’s 3000 outlets trading as Vanguard.

The Freshfields team is being led by client relationship partner Claire Wills, head of Freshfields’ retail sector group, while at Reed Smith corporate partner Ivy Lai is leading a team out of Hong Kong.

The proposed joint venture would create a business with sales of £10bn, in which CRE would control 80%, with the remaining 20% controlled by Tesco. However, according to Tesco, there is no certainty that the transaction will go through.

Elsewhere, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is advising Cheil Industries and Samsung Electronics on an acquisition of a majority stake in lighting specialist Novaled. Cheil Industries is set to acquire 50% while Samsung will take 40% of the company in a deal that values Novaled at €260m. The remaining 10% is currently held by Samsung Venture Investments, which will maintain its shareholding.

The Skadden team is being led by M&A partners Matthias Horbach in Frankfurt and Young Shin in New York alongside tax partner Johannes Frey in Frankfurt. Sullivan & Cromwell led by Frankfurt corporate partner York Schnorbus advised Novaled. This will be Samsung’s first large strategic investment in Germany.