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🍫 Hotel Chocolat checks into Mars

In today’s email:

  • Zoom in and out on life

  • Slaughters’ NQs secure the bag

  • Some of you got LittleLaw merch

  • London lawyers think PE is coming back

  • Sam Altman is out but then back in again

  • The coolest student newsletter I’ve found recently

  • Should lawyers be able to reject work for ethical reasons?

… and more!

If you take just one thing from this email…

Mars, a major player in the global confectionery market, is purchasing the premium British chocolate brand Hotel Chocolat for £534m. Mars went for it mainly because this acquisition fills a gap in its portfolio — Hotel Chocolat is a sustainable, premium chocolate brand. This matches with changing consumer preferences and government regulations on more sustainable food options. This is one reason why a company may acquire another.


This week, I sent out my first three sets of the LittleLaw stickers (if you don’t know what I’m talking about check out my LinkedIn post 👇️)

If you’re interested in getting your hands on some LittleLaw stickers, refer a few friends with your referral link and I’ll send them straight to you!

I mean… just look at these guys! 🥹 

- Idin


🍫 Hotel Chocolat checks into Mars

What’s going on here?

British chocolate maker, Hotel Chocolat has been bought by Mars for £534m.

What does this mean?

Mars, perhaps, bought the brand for more than it should have. The £534m price tag was 170% higher than Hotel Chocolat's closing price in the public market, making it the largest takeover premium paid on the London Stock Exchange in 25 years.

The two founders of Hotel Chocolat, Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, will receive around £140m each from the sale. Thirlwell will be staying on as the company’s chief executive and plans to reinvest 80% of his share back into the firm.

For any Hotel Chocolat fans among you, Mars has ruled out making any changes to Hotel Chocolat’s recipes… phew.

Has the deal completed?

Not yet — the deal is set to close in the first quarter of 2024.

If you’re interested, you can read the full London Stock Exchange release which has loads more detail.

Which law firms are involved?

  • 🏢 Mars was advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

  • 🏢 Hotel Chocolat was supported by Herbert Smith Freehills

Why did this deal make sense?

Benefits for Mars…

  • 🍫 Filling a portfolio gap: Mars was looking for a premium chocolate brand to fill a gap in its portfolio. Mars’ empire ranges from Mars bars, Skittles and M&M’s to pet food like Whiskas, but none of these are considered 'premium'. Hotel Chocolat is considered premium — so it’s a good move for the US food giant.

  • 🍫 Consumer trend of sustainability: Mass-market brands like Mars are not usually not as sustainable as premium brands because their supply chains are driven by price. In 2022, Hotel Chocolat invested 10% of its profits in sustainable farming initiatives and paid farmers a premium rate for cacao beans. Since companies that focus their marketing around sustainable sourcing have grown rapidly, having Hotel Chocolat in its portfolio will hopefully boost Mars’ revenues.

Benefits for Hotel Chocolat…

  • 🍫 Global expansion and supply chain solution: Hotel Chocolat has tried to expand overseas — in the US and Japan — and mostly failed. The reason was supply chain challenges (they struggled to get the ingredients or product that they needed to the right countries). As a global manufacturer, Mars will support Hotel Chocolat’s international expansion plans with its global supply chain and commercial relationships.

Why should law firms care?

Law firm client bases are a key way to distinguish themselves from each other.

Mars is a loyal client of Freshfields. The Magic Circle firm also advised Mars on:

Stephenson Harwood has advised Hotel Chocolat a few times in the past, but not on this deal. Stephenson Harwood supported the company in:

They’ll probably be disappointed in not getting the nod for this deal too!


Too accurate 🥲


  • 🤑 Slaughter and May has raised its newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers' pay to £125,000. Previously at £115,000, this move lets it match increases by Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, and Freshfields earlier in the year. Slaughters had initially held off on a pay hike but has now caught up, ensuring their newest solicitors aren't lagging in the salary race. This change was part of a wider review of associate pay and benefits, reflecting the competitive nature of top law firm salaries.

  • 👩‍⚖️ Younger lawyers want to work with clients that align with their ethical standards, causing friction with senior lawyers. Nearly two-thirds of junior lawyers believe they should have the right to refuse work on moral grounds, but only a small fraction currently can. This ethical stance covers issues like sustainability and climate change, with many young lawyers unwilling to join firms that don't share their values, even for higher pay. Older lawyers, however, see this as a challenge to professionalism and warn of future issues in law firms.

  • 🏦 London law firms are anticipating a resurgence in private equity, resulting in a hiring spree despite the current deal slump. Firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Paul, Weiss are strategically recruiting partners to strengthen their private equity practices. This is because they believe in the private equity market's near future potential and a focus on maintaining client relationships.

  • 💻️ In response to the EU's Digital Markets Act, Windows 11 users in the EU will soon be able to disable Bing search and uninstall Microsoft Edge. This change, focusing on increased competition and user choice, will be exclusive to the EEA and aligns with the EU's push for digital service interoperability.

  • 🇸🇬 Singapore's Parliament is considering the Significant Investments Review Bill, introduced to safeguard national security interests by regulating critical entities. This Bill will allow a designated Minister to review transactions of entities that might act against Singapore's national security interests. The Bill's second reading and further debate are scheduled for January 2024. The UK has a similar (and kind of controversial) Bill called NSI — we’ve written about that.

  • 🔄 OpenAI is in talks for a leadership shuffle (or shuffle back), with co-founder Sam Altman potentially returning as CEO. In the last few days, Altman was sacked. But after 700+ employees called for him to be reinstated, it seems that the company may be back-pedalling. The aim is to resolve the situation quickly because companies like Salesforce and Microsoft are interested in hiring OpenAI's people.



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