Bakers wins Nike role on £284m Umbro takeover

Baker & McKenziehas scored a stunning coup by scooping the lead role advising Nike on its £284m takeover bid for UK sportswear maker Umbro.

The firm won the instruction through a beauty parade to register its first corporate deal for the sportswear giant. Bakers’ relationship with Nike has been built by the IP team, which has worked on international trademark issues for the company.

M&A partner Timothy Gee is leading Bakers’ team. Umbro has turned to general corporate counsel Lovells, led by corporate finance partner Nigel Read.

Lovells counts Umbro as a long-standing client and has advised on Doughty Hanson’s 1999 management buy-in of Umbro and on Umbro’s 2004 London Stock Market listing. Read said that he hoped the relationship would continue if the bid was successful as the Umbro management team is expected to stay in place.

The offer has been accepted by Umbro’s board but is now subject to shareholder approval and lengthy competition clearance in up to 12 jurisdictions, which Bakers will also advise on.

Sportswear rivals JJB Sports and Sports Direct International have built up a share of approximately 25 per cent in Umbro over the last month, which would be sufficient to block any takeover. Negotiations will be ongoing. Read said that the transaction would be unlikely to close before early to mid February 2008.

In a boost to the deal the Football Association had agreed to waive its change-of-control termination rights in respect of Umbro’s supply of kit to the England team, after negotiations led by Nike and supported by Umbro.

Nike’s offer at a 61 per cent premium follows days of speculation about Nike buying the British sportswear manufacturer which supplies the kit for a multitude of national and FA Premier League football teams and other sporting clubs throughout the world.

JPMorgan Cazenove and Merrill Lynch acted as financial advisers for Umbro and Nike respectively.