Ashurst, Hogan Lovells advise on landmark Barclays-BlueBay deal

Ashurst and Hogan Lovells have taken lead roles on Barclays’ innovative collaboration with alternative provider BlueBay Asset Management’s Direct Lending Fund.

Ashurst finance partner Tim Rennie led the small team advising Barclays on the deal, with assistance from tax partner Paul Miller and finance and restructuring partner Dan Hamilton.

The deal marks the first time that a bank has joined forces with one of the many alternative operators that have emerged in Europe since the onset of the financial crisis.

Barclays and BlueBay’s London-based fund, a unit of Royal Bank of Canada, will offer medium-sized UK companies so-called ‘unitranche’ debt up to a value of £120m. It will involve combining capital from both Barclays and BlueBay to achieve a single term loan, at a single rate of interest, with common terms.

“It’s the bespoke agreement in the background to the deal that’s unique,” said Rennie. “Rather than entering a separate agreement on each transaction, the arrangement goes out under one loan product.”

It is understood other UK high street lenders are also considering teaming up with funds in a similar collaboration, but none is yet at the same stage of development as Barclays.

Rennie led the small team advising on the deal from Ashurst, with assistance from tax partner Paul Miller and finance and restructuring partner Dan Hamilton.

It is thought that Hogan Lovells acted for BlueBay, led by banking partner Stuart Brinkworth.

Background to this deal:

The deal demonstrates the increasing weight held by so-called shadow banks in Europe. These lenders are taking great strides to fill the void left by traditional banks, which have curbed their direct lending over the past few years.

Blue Bay’s Direct Lending Fund, which made its final close in May, makes investments into UK and northern European mid-market companies with an enterprise value of less than €500m.

Barclays regularly instructs both Ashurst and Hogan Lovells for advice. The latter holds a coveted spot on its general advisory panel, while Ashurst sits on both its lending and finance panel and is entrusted with investment banking and markets work.

The banked kicked off its first general panel review since 2011 last month, following a 12-month delay. The panel is one of the biggest in the country, consisting of more than 100 firms spread across a general advisory roster and 15 specialist sub-panels.

Sources told The Lawyer that the next list of advisers, to be announced in July 2014, will fall under just two arms – a line-up of general advisers, and a roster of specialist firms (18 December 2013).