A&O, CC and Freshfields win roles on £2bn private equity deal

Ian Frost

An international Freshfields team featuring eight partners advised Springer Science and Business Media on its €1.7bn (£1.53bn) debt refinancing and subsequent €2.25bn (£2.03bn) sale to private equity house EQT and the Singapore Investment Corporation (SIC).

Finance partner Ian Frost led on securing the refinancing package, while private equity partner David Sonter led on the sale. Also involved on the deal were corporate partner Jennifer Bethleham, anti-trust partner Rod Carlton, employment partner Nick Squire, German tax partners Norbert Schneider and Stephen Eilers, and Dutch corporate partner Jan Willem van der Staay.

Frost said the deal showed that there “is life in the leveraged loan market” after a year in which big ticket refinancing had become virtually impossible, but remained cautious

“It’s a good sign that it got done,” he commented. “It won’t necessarily open the floodgates, but it shows the banking market is moving in the right direction.”

A&O leveraged finance partner George Link acted for a syndicate of four banks that underwrote the newly arranged debt, allowing the sale to go ahead. The lenders are Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Unicredit.

Corporate finance partner Alan Inglis led the Clifford Chance team advising EQT on the debt financing part of the deal. Hengeler Mueller corporate partner Max Schiessl acted for the purchaser on the acquisition.

Springer had previously been acquired by private equity owners Cinven and Candover.

The deal is a further indication of the return of the M&A market, following Apax Partners’ £975m takeover of pharmaceutical logistics company Marken.