A&O ties help secure New Look auction instruction

An old relationship has gifted Allen & Overy (A&O) a key mandate to advise on the auction of high street retailer New Look.

A&O is co-counsel with Clifford Chance on the auction, which sees private equity houses Apax and Permira sell the business, having taken it private for £700m in 2004. A&O advised Tom Singh, the founder of New Look, on that deal. It is hoped that the current auction could raise £2bn.

Clifford Chance has long been Permira’s favoured legal adviser, with a three-partner team led by Matthew Layton managing the relationship.

For A&O the instruction represents a step towards Apax, whose usual advisers include Ashurst, SJ Berwin and Weil Gotshal & Manges on the fund formation side.

As well as the relationship A&O has with Singh, the firm has acted for Apax several times on financing work, but in the past year the magic circle firm has been increasing its instructions on the M&A side.

In March private equity partner Derek Baird, who joined the firm from Lovells last year, advised Apax on its £675m purchase of a 49.9 per cent stake in Trader Media Group, which marked the first M&A deal A&O had completed for Apax.

Warburg Pincus and Texas Pacific Group have teamed up to bid for New Look. They have instructed their usual counsel, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advising on corporate aspects and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton on the financing, The Lawyer understands.