Ashurst has pushed aside Linklaters to scoop its first major corporate deal for new client Sportingbet, the world’s largest online betting company.
The City firm is advising Sportingbet in relation to the £169.1m acquisition of Paradise Poker – one of the four largest internet poker sites – and the placing of 54,545,454 new ordinary shares at £1.10 per share.
It is understood that in the summer Ashurst replaced Linklaters as Sportingbet’s principal legal adviser on larger corporate deals, following a recommendation from German investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
In August, Ashurst was retained to act for Sportingbet on a deal involving the acquisition of $13.3m (£7.2m) of assets from World Gaming and to establish a joint venture to develop and maintain these assets for the benefit of both companies.
Ashurst is the third law firm to be retained by Sportingbet since it floated on AIM at the beginning of 2001. Sportingbet also instructs Finers Stephens Innocent on an ad hoc basis.
Finers has had a relationship with Sportingbet for several years and advised the company on its AIM float. The relationship was further strengthened after the company appointed Daniel Talisman, a former commercial lawyer at the firm, as its first head of legal.
The Ashurst team is being led by corporate partners Adrian Clark and Nigel Stacey. Berwin Leighton Paisner’s corporate finance head David Collins led the team advising new client Paradise Poker.
The deal is one of the first notable moves in the predicted consolidation of what has been a fragmented sector.