A&O firms up Och-Ziff ties on Whitehead Mann bid

Allen & Overy

(A&O) has strengthened its relationship with Och-Ziff Capital Management, scooping a role to advise the secretive US hedge fund on a bid for headhunter Whitehead Mann.

Och-Ziff has emerged as the financial backer behind Piers Marmion, the recruitment specialist that has made a £24.5m offer for Whitehead Mann.

Och-Ziff’s relationship with A&O dates back to 2005, when US sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer took over Premiership football club Manchester United. In addition to advising Glazer, the magic circle firm advised Och-Ziff and Perry Capital on their financing of the controversial deal.

Since then A&O has advised Och-Ziff and Perry Capital on the £410m management buyout of clothing retailer Peacock Group. The transaction was the UK’s first-ever leveraged buyout by hedge funds.

A&O partner Andrew Ballheimer, who is leading the team advising Och-Ziff and the bid vehicle, compared the deal to a private equity transaction. “It’s a classic leveraged private equity bid,” said Ballheimer.

Och-Ziff is understood to be one of the most advanced in private equity investing. Other hedge funds that behave like private equity investors include Goldentree Capital and Oak Tree Capital.