A&O and Linklaters refresh Britvic’s £300m bank loan

Drinks maker Britvic has renegotiated its £300m banking facility, with Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters winning key mandates.

Linklaters, led by banking partner Philip Spittal, represented longstanding client Britvic.

A&O edged out Clifford Chance to act for the six lending banks – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Bank of Ireland, Lloyds and Fortis.

Clifford Chance had advised on the original loan in 2005, ahead of the ­company’s flotation on the London Stock Exchange, but lost out to A&O banking partner Trevor Borthwick on the new facility.

Shares in Britvic rose ­following the refinancing, which has seen the loan increased to £333m at a rate of 250 basis points above Libor.

The original loan, which expires in May 2010, was charged at 60 points above Libor.

Fortis will drop out of the banking consortium next year to be replaced by Abbey.
Spittal said companies were looking to complete refinancings long before the loans expire because of uncertainty in the banking sector.

“Companies are looking at their ability to refinance much earlier than they would have done previously,” he said. “Britvic’s existing facility doesn’t expire until the middle of next year.”

Linklaters has been the preferred corporate counsel since advising on the ­company’s £800m IPO in 2005, the firm’s first major instruction from Britvic.

Corporate partner Stuart Bedford, who is now based in Singapore, acted on the float, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer ­advising the underwriters.

Eversheds also provides external legal advice to Britvic general counsel Sharon Harris, particularly on property matters.

Gambling group William Hill has just completed a major refinancing, raising £1.2bn in a rights issue and new debt facility.

Ashurst corporate ­partner Anthony Clare advised William Hill, with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and A&O acting for the banks.