A&O revisits HSBC tower sale with debt refinancing brief

A&O revisits HSBC tower sale with debt refinancing briefAllen & Overy (A&O) has scored the lead role on a deal to refinance the debt from the sale of the UK’s most expensive building, the HSBC Skyscraper at Canary Wharf.

The ;mandate ;came through after Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was conflicted out of the deal.

HSBC called on Freshfields in May last year when it sold the tower to Spanish property group Metrovacesa in a £1.1bn sale-and-leaseback deal.

Metrovacesa is now trying to refinance the sale amid falling property values. Freshfields has been conflicted out because of its role advising the Spanish company on a different restructuring matter.

A&O, which advised HSBC on the financing of the original transaction, is understood to have been promoted to main adviser.

Real estate head Adam Cleal and partner Imogen Moss are representing the bank. Senior associate David Barker is thought to have been retained to advise on the financing of any potential ;deal. ;A&O declined to comment.

Metrovacesa has instructed Clifford Chance real es­t­ate partner Mike Edwards, who advised the company when it bought the HSBC building at the height of the property boom in May 2007.

HSBC ;provided ;an £810m bridging loan to fund Metrovacesa’s purchase, but the facility expires at the end of November.

It is understood that the property group is seeking buyers to take on all or part of the building.

A ;spokesperson ;for Metrovacesa said: “We’re trying to renegotiate the debt with HSBC. We’re ­confident of doing this.”

Metrovacesa has debts of more than £7bn and has been selling assets to raise liquidity after being hit by the plummeting Spanish property market.

A&O also landed a role in another billion-pound Canary Wharf sale last year.

The firm provided real estate advice for Royal Bank of Scotland when it sold Citibank’s Canary Wharf headquarters to an investment consortium.