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Dealwatch: Ashurst and BLP gifted roles on Nutella-maker Ferrero’s takeover bid for Thorntons

LB100 firms Ashurst and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) have both landed leading roles advising on the recent £112m takeover bid by Italy’s Ferrero International for British confectioner Thorntons, after the latter suffered falling profits and the resignation of its chief executive.

Ferrero International, the maker of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, was advised by BLP corporate finance partner Cath Shirley, with corporate specialist Alan Paul advising as a consultant. The firm’s head of anti-trust & competition Andrew Hockley also advised alongside partner James Marshall on EU competition law while pensions & incentives partner David Dennison is providing advice on the Thornton’s share option scheme and partner Gary Richards advised on tax issues.

Ashurst, meanwhile, took the mandate advising Rothschild, which served as financial adviser to Ferrero, in relation to the transaction with corporate partner Tom Mercer leading.

Announced this morning (22 June), Ferrero made a cash offer of 145p per Thorntons share. The deal follows the resignation of Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart last month following months of falling profits. Following the bid by Ferrero, which also makes Kinder Eggs and Nutella, shares for the troubled confectionary chain soared by 42%.

Commenting on the offer, Thorntons’ chair Paul Wilkinson said: ‘Ferrero is offering our shareholders an attractive premium to the average price of Thorntons’ shares over the last three months. Although the prospects for Thorntons as an independent company remain strong as the company embarks on the next phase of its strategy, the board of Thorntons also recognises the potential benefits to the brand and the business, including employees and all stakeholders from combining with the Ferrero Group.’