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Addleshaw Booth & Co and Ashurst Morris Crisp have advised AMEC Developments and British Waterways on a pioneering public-private partnership (PPP) to develop waterside land.
The initial PPP is for 12 sites with an end value of £1.4bn, but it it probable that future waterways projects will follow. This could mean lucrative instructions for Ashursts and Addleshaws, if, as expected, the AMEC consortium is retained as the private sector partner.
AMEC Developments operates outside the panel system used by its parent company for external legal advisers. The AMEC Plc subsidiary is an existing Addleshaws client, primarily on the property side. It used Addleshaws for a joint venture with developer Warp 4 earlier this year and turned again to the firm's corporate finance partner Philip Goodstone and commercial property partner Michael Reevey to advise on the British Waterways deal.
British Waterways' main advisers on big projects are Herbert Smith and Ashursts, but the body has also used Burges Salmon, Denton Wilde Sapte, Norton Rose and Wragge & Co. In line with public procurement regulations, it put the legal work for the PPP out to tender in early 2000 and Ashursts won the contract.
Property partner Hugh Lumby worked on the deal alongside corporate partner Jan Sanders. Lumby said: "There's an initial set of properties that are being developed, but the joint venture could do further deals. It could be huge."
AMEC first teamed up with the Igloo Regeneration Fund, represented by Nabarro Nathanson, to form a joint venture in order to bid for the contract. Following its appointment as preferred bidder, the consortium then entered into a limited partnership with British Waterways, establishing ISIS Waterside Regneration.
Goodstone said: "Typically, you'd use a limited liability partnership where you have one party who's a tax-exempt institution, such as a pension fund who will want to use a tax-transparent vehicle, so it enables corporates and financial institutions to invest using the same vehicle."
Reevey said: "It was unusual because British Waterways is under a statutory duty to maintain waterways. It's not just a question of profit, there has to be responsible development."