The other Woolworths: more details in on landmark deal

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Magic circle firm Linklaters has emerged as one of the other major firms advising South African retailer Woolworths on its proposed $2 billion acquisition of David Jones.
 
Australasian Lawyer had announced yesterday that Gilbert + Tobin is advising South African retailer Woolworths Holdings Ltd., while Herbert Smith Freehills is representing David Jones. Linklaters has now been announced as international counsel to Woolworths, while Webber Wentzel is advising on South African law.
 
Woolworths South Africa said a major incentive for the acquisition was to create a larger company with more bargaining power with suppliers, particularly in clothing and other fashion items.
 
The G +T team was led by Hiroshi Narushima, who said the acquisition represented a significant landmark. “The acquisition of David Jones is a transformational transaction for Woolworths and would make it one of the top 10 global department store operators. These complex, cross border transactions are challenging but very satisfying when they all come together,” Narushima said.
 
The South African company is not related to the Australian supermarket chain of the same name, though both took their names from the now-defunct U.S. discount store operator F.W. Woolworth.
 
The Woolworths brand is best known in South Africa as a clothing retailer, with a smaller focus on the sale of upper-market grocery products – not dissimilar to the model of David Jones itself.
 
David Jones last year received a $2.8 billion merger offer from rival Myer Holdings Ltd., but the company’s board rejected the deal. This time around, the company board is apparently recommending all shareholders vote in favour of the cash offer from Woolworths.
 
The deal is expected to close in July, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
   
The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partner Rebecca Maslen-Stannage and senior associate Courtney Dixon.

Aside from Narushima, the G+T advisory team included Craig Semple, James Lewis, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Elizabeth Avery, Peter Feros and Amanda Hempel. 

The deal adds to G+T's already strong M&A record for 2014.  During the first quarter the firm advised Vitol on its $2.9 billion acquisition of Shell’s Australian assets, Aurora Oil & Gas on its $2.6 billion proposed acquisition by Baytex and the executive directors of Leighton Holdings Limited on the $1.1 billion partial takeover offer to acquire by Hochtief Australia Holdings Limited.

G+T ranks first in Bloomberg's table of first-quarter announced deals ranked by value, and first in Mergermarket's table of first-quarter M&A deals according to value.  

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