Herbert Smith has scored its first property deal for Rotch, advising the real estate conglomerate on its £327m acquisition of Shell Mex House on the Strand
It is the largest single-building investment deal in UK history. The appointment came despite the fact that the firm is not on the Rotch panel, set up by group counsel Meena Heath last year. Panel member Clifford Chance would have been the obvious choice, but was conflicted out. It acted for the vendors, Lehman Brothers and real estate company Witkoff. Partners Iain Morpeth, Richard Margree and Andrew Carnegie led the team. Ashurst Morris Crisp and Slaughter and May are 'level one' advisers on the panel. Macfarlanes and Osborne Clarke are medium-sized advisers, while Memery Crystal, Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn and Julian Holy make up its niche firms. Chris De Pury, who led the Herbert Smith team, said: "Ever since their panel review they've tended to use Julian Holy [for property deals]." But it is understood that Rotch wanted a large firm for the massive acquisition against tough time pressures. Tenants of the landmark building include Shell, Pearson, Omnicom and Vodafone-Vivendi joint venture Vizzavi. De Pury said: "Clifford Chance was conflicted out and they knew some people here and we ended up pulling in the instruction. Julian Holy is closely tied to Rotch and what Rotch has been buying and selling recently are single-tenant assets. That is achievable for a small practice." Herbert Smith partners Don Rowlands, Gary Hommel, Ann Levin and Neil Warriner worked with De Pury on the deal.