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Ashurst Morris Crisp is advising Cinven as leader of a consortium of private equity houses in the biggest leveraged buyout this year. The consortium will pay £1.2bn for a 75 per cent stake in the healthcare and business publication of Vivendi Universal Publishing. Cinven is a long-term client and instructs Ashursts and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer equally, although Freshfields has undertaken a lot of the larger work in recent times. "This time it was our turn," said Ashursts Paris partner Thomas Forschbach. Working alongside Forschbach is Paris-based banking partner Simon Thrower, who is advising Cinven on the debt side. Shearman & Sterling in London and Paris, led by partners Iain Goalen and Martin Lebeuf, is advising UBS Warburg as arranger on the senior debt. Kirkland & Ellis's London office has been brought in to advise on US law. London partner Stuart Mills said the firm is often used to do US work for Cinven. In November it advised Cinven on US aspects to finance the buyout of German plastic manufacturer Klöckner Pentaplast. However, according to Forschbach, the final decision on which firm to use for the US side lay with Ashursts. Under the terms of the deal, Cinven will take a 37.5 per cent stake, Carlyle Group a 28 per cent stake and Apax Partners a 9.5 per cent stake. Vivendi will retain a 25 per cent stake and is also providing part of the financing. Vivendi has been trying to sell the portfolio since last July and announced exclusive talks with Cinven last August. However, in the wake of 11 September, it took a long time to materialise and final completion is expected at the end of June. This means that along with Cinven, Carlyle and Apax are also investing in a deal priced far below the £2bn expected when the talks first began. Vivendi is being advised by Eleanor Baxter at Bredin Prat. Both Cinven and Carlyle have made prior investments in publishing. Cinven bought control of IPC Group from Reed Elsevier in 1998. It also sold IPC to AOL Time Warner last July. Carlyle recently sold its stake in French newspaper Le Figaro.